by Keira Schultz (’26) | October 7, 2022
After twenty-seven years of playing professional tennis, Serena Williams retired after losing to Ajla Tomijanovic in the third round of the 2022 U.S. Open. With tears of joy running down her face, Serena said goodbye to the world of professional tennis at the end of her match. Williams will forever be remembered as an incredible tennis player and will always remain an idol especially to girls reaching for their highest goals. As we witness the conclusion of her tennis career, let’s look back on where she came from and what she has accomplished.
Serena Williams was born on September 26, 1981, and grew up in Compton, California. She and her older sister Venus were encouraged to pursue tennis by both their parents, but their father, Richard, was the true motivator of the sisters’ tennis careers. Determined to take his daughters out of Compton and develop them into people that the world would remember, Richard became a strict coach. He took them to public tennis courts for many hours a day to work on serving and hitting. In 1991, the family moved to Florida so that both girls could attend a tennis academy and further their training in the sport; by 1995, a year after Venus debuted professionally, Serena started playing professionally as well. In the 1999 U.S. Open, Serena shocked the tennis world by beating Venus to a Grand Slam singles title.
Serena and Venus have a unique relationship; they are siblings, tennis partners, opponents, and much more. As children, the siblings pushed each other to work their hardest in practice. Later, Serena quickly outshined her sister in professional tennis despite widespread beliefs that Venus would be the superior athlete. Together, they have won fourteen doubles Grand Slam titles as partners. Even though Venus has lost multiple times to Serena, there have never been any signs of jealousy between the two. In fact, Venus’ support for Serena has shined through every aspect of her career. In her goodbye speech, Serena said, “I wouldn’t be Serena if there wasn’t Venus, so thank you Venus. She’s the only reason Serena Williams ever existed.”
Over the course of her career, Serena was exceptional in the Grand Slam singles. According to ESPN, she won twenty-three singles titles, thirty-three singles Grand Slam appearances, and 4 Olympic gold medals. Serena was the first African-American to win a Grand Slam singles title in the Open Era and the second to win a Grand Slam single. She also won four consecutive Grand Slams: three in 2002 and the fourth in 2003. By winning the French Open, Wimbledon, U.S. Open, and Australian Open, she also became the sixth woman to win a career Grand Slam. She sits second in Open Era history, only behind Margaret Court with twenty-four.
Although expected, the retirement of Serena Williams will forever change tennis. There will never be another “Serena Williams.” There will never be another person with the same attitude and personality that she had. She made every person and competitor that played her better than when they started the match. Serena Williams is, without a doubt, the greatest female tennis player that the world has seen.