The Williams' sisters, Venus and Serena, have completely transformed the world's outlook on athletes and what they should look like. These sisters took the game of tennis by storm and never looked back.
Venus (born in 1980) and Serena (born 15 months later) grew up in Compton, California and West Palm Beach, Florida. Their father, a former sharecropper from Louisiana, moved the family to Compton for a purpose. Richard Williams wanted to expose his daughters to the ugly possibilities of life “if they did not work hard and get an education.” The sisters began learning their skill from their father, who only knew the game from tennis books and videos. Incredibly, it was enough to mold these girls into top athletes.
By the age of 10, Venus’ serve speed topped 100 miles per hour. She used this powerful weapon to create a record of 63-0 on the United States Tennis Association junior tour. In 1994 she turned pro and in her first match she defeated 50-seeded Shaun Stafford at the Bank of the West Classic in California.
In 1997, Venus became the first unseeded U.S. Open women’s finalist in the Open era. In 2000 she won both Wimbledon and the U.S. Open, paving the way for her to land a $40 million contract with Reebok. Venus has won countless titles and medals- including 43 singles titles from the U.S. Open and Wimbledon; 19 doubles titles from the French Open, Australian Open, and Wimbledon; and four gold medals from the U.S. Olympics.
Serena began playing tennis when she was just four years old. She turned pro in 1995 and in just two years she was ranked number 99 in the world rankings – up from number 304 just 12 months prior. In 1999, she beat out her sister in their race to the family’s first Grand Slam victory – the U.S. Open title. Over the next decade, Serena alone would win 23 Grand Slam titles-including 10 doubles championships with her sister.
In 2002, she won the French Open, the U.S. Open, and Wimbledon, defeating Venus in the finals of each tournament. She captured her first Australian Open in 2003, making her one of only five women players to have complete grand slam sets. The win also fulfilled her desire to finish off what she'd dubbed "The Serena Slam." In 2008, she won the U.S. Open and teamed with Venus to capture a second women's doubles Olympic gold medal at the Beijing Games.
In 2011, Williams suffered a series of health scares after doctors found a blood clot in one of her lungs. Following several procedures, including one to remove a hematoma, and several months away from the game, Williams returned to the court to compete in the U.S. Open and placed second in the singles tournament.
Just like her older sister, Serena has a mass collection of titles and medals – 19 Grand Slams, 65 singles titles, six U.S. Open titles, five Wimbledon titles, six Australian Open titles, two French Open titles, 22 doubles titles, two mixed doubles, and five gold medals. What a collection!
The sisters have expanded their superior abilities off of the tennis court with their unique style and attitude. Venus pursued art classes and earned a certificate in interior design – which spawned her interior design company, V Starr Interiors. Her company works on residential projects throughout the country. She also started her own clothing line called ‘EleVen’ as well as a collection of women’s apparel for Wilson’s leather. Serena, on the other hand, expanded her brand into film, television, and fashion. She developed her own line of clothing called ‘Aneres’ and in 2002 People magazine selected her as one of its 25 Most Intriguing People. Essence magazine later called her one of the country’s 50 Most Inspiring African-Americans. She’s also made television appearances including voice work on The Simpsons.
These powerful women have truly made their mark in the history of tennis – collectively and individually. They are forces to be reckoned with on and off the court.
By C Morrison
Source: Biography.com, venuswilliams.com, serenawilliams.com
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