Even the most legendary careers can’t go on forever. The sport of tennis is about to learn that first hand, as the sun is finally setting on the fantastic career of Serena Williams. After turning pro when she was 14, Williams spent more than a quarter-century as the pre-eminent figure in women’s tennis. Serena announced in August that she would be retiring after the U.S. Open. So at the end of a remarkable career, let’s take a look back at the most impressive and memorable moments in Williams’ career.
First Grand Slam
Other than going pro at 14, Williams winning her first grand slam tournament is surely the first major milestone of her career. Like her debut, Williams was still a teenager when she won the 1999 U.S. Open when she was only 17. Williams defeated the legendary Martina Hingis to capture the title, surpassing Steffi Graf as the youngest tennis player to win a grand slam, a record she still holds.
Boycotting Indian Wells
At times, it’s what Williams did off the court that made the most significant impact. Perhaps the best example of that is when she and her sister Venus boycotted the Indian Wells Masters tournament. Williams won the tournament in 1999 and again in 2001. In 2001, she was booed and heard racially-charged comments throughout the tournament, even during the ceremony after her win. Despite facing consequences to her finances and world ranking, Williams boycotted the event until 2015 in reaction to her inappropriate treatment.
All At Once
Perhaps her biggest on-court accomplishment was when she held all four grand slam titles simultaneously. Despite withdrawing from the 2002 Australian Open, she rebounded quickly to win the French Open- defeating her sister Venus, Wimbledon, and the U.S. Open that year. When she won the 2003 Australian Open, Williams became the reigning winner of all four grand slams, helping to coin the phrase “Serena Slam.” More than a decade later, Williams did the same thing, winning the U.S. Open in 2014 and then the Australian Open, French Open, and Wimbledon in 2015, again holding all four titles.
Williams isn’t officially Wonder Woman, but it sometimes seemed like she was. For instance, she won the 2017 Australian Open, which became the last of her 23 singles grand slam victories. In the aftermath of the tournament, the world learned that Williams had been pregnant during the tournament. Months later, Williams experienced a pulmonary embolism during childbirth that could have killed her. But despite the near-death experience, Williams was back on the court two months later and climbed back into the top 10 of the world ranking by the end of 2019, coming back from her pregnancy far better than anyone could have imagined.
Serena’s Last Dance
Fittingly, the U.S. Open, which was the site of her first grand slam win, was also the site of her last hurrah in 2022. Williams went out with a bang, defeating no. 2 ranked Anett Kontaveit in the second round. When Williams lost in the third round to Ajla Tomljanović, she did so like a champ. She left everything she had on the court, forcing six match points before accepting defeat. While Williams came up a little short, it was one last marvelous and memorable performance by the greatest player of all time.
Serena has won 23 Grand Slam singles championships. That’s the most by any player in the Open Era – beginning in 1968 – and is second-most all time. Williams Won 367 major matches, the most by a woman in tennis history. Throughout her career, Williams has earned $95 Million in career prizes and $350 Million from sponsors.
There is no question Serena Williams is THE GOAT!