Serena Williams: A Lasting Legacy

Serena celebrating a win at the 2015 Australian Open (Wikipedia Commons)

Over the past decade, Serena Williams has become a household name in sports. She was the first person to win 23 grand slams. Williams recently played her last career tournament at the US Open and beat the number two tennis player in the world, Anett Kontaveit. However her winning streak came to an end when she lost the next round to A. Tomljanovic.

Williams was born September 26th, 1981 and was raised in Compton, California with her mother and father, Oracene Price and Richard Williams. Being raised, tennis was unusual because it was viewed as a predominantly white sport. Williams and her sister Venus were both bred into tennis, and much of their coaching came from their strict father. Due to the family’s limited resources, they moved from California to Florida so both sisters could attend a prestigious tennis academy. At the age of 14 Serena began her professional career a year after her sister. Thus a new age of tennis was brought to the world and a simultaneous Williams’ takeover began.

Williams started to make a reputation for herself with her first career victory in the 1999 U.S. open at only 17 years-old. She continued to revolutionize the sport through her powerful and explosive style of play as she won 22 more grand slams.

Overall,  she holds: 858 tour victories, 73 singles titles, 14 major doubles titles, and 3 Olympic gold medals. However, much of the influence held by Williams was off the court. Her impact can be shown through the 14 year boycott of a marquee tennis tournament in Indian Wells, California which left Williams devastated after what she believed to be racist remarks in 2001 according to VOA News. In addition, Williams continued to be outspoken about her views of the double-standards and racism in tennis. For example, in a match against Naomi Osaka in 2018, Williams was given a multitude of violations for things she believed none of her male counterparts would be punished for.

Williams is an inspiration for many young women around the globe, including Naomi Osaka, who beat Serena in the 2018 U.S. Open. She credits much of her success and love of the sport to Williams. 

Williams’ impact is even felt at Woodgrove. Charlotte Hannis of Woodgrove’s  women’s tennis team states, “Before I even played or watched tennis, I had known and admired Serena for her talent. She is one of those athletes known by everyone, whether they follow tennis or not. Now that she’s retiring, I will definitely miss her presence in this sport.”

Serena Williams’ incredible dominance as an athlete and her persevering spirit through racism, sexism, and decades of stereotypes ensure that even though she is retired, there is no end to her powerful influence.