“Ever since I was a little girl, my dream was to be the best tennis player in the world. Luck has nothing to do with being good at the sport. I have spent many, many hours… countless hours… on the court working for my one moment in time, not knowing when it would come but believing that it would”
American tennis player Serena Jameka Williams was born on September 26, 1981, in Saginaw, Michigan. The youngest of Richard and Oracene Williams’s five daughters, Serena Williams, along with her sister Venus, would grow up to become one of the sport’s great champions.
Serena’s father—a former sharecropper from Louisiana determined to see his two youngest girls succeed—used what he’d gleaned from tennis books and videos to instruct Serena and Venus on how to play the game. At the age of 3, practicing on a court not far from the family’s new Compton, California, home, Serena withstood the rigors of daily two-hour practices from her father.
The fact that the family had relocated to Compton was no accident. With its high rate of gang activity, Richard Williams wanted to expose his daughters to the ugly possibilities of life “if they did not work hard and get an education.” In this setting, on courts that were riddled with potholes and sometimes missing nets, Serena and Venus cut their teeth on the game of tennis and the requirements for persevering in a tough climate.
“The best thing about life is that every day is an opportunity to work on yourself, to dream a new dream and think bigger… to laugh, smile and experience more… to love the world around you a little longer than just the day before”
By 1991, Serena was 46-3 on the junior United States Tennis Association tour, and ranked first in the 10-and-under division. Sensing his girls needed better instruction to become successful professionals, he moved his family again—this time to Florida. There, Richard let go of some of his coaching responsibilities, but not the management of Serena’s and Venus’s career. Wary of his daughters burning out too quickly, he scaled back their junior tournament schedule.
In 1995, Serena turned pro. Two years later, she was already No. 99 in the world rankings—up from No. 304 just 12 months before. A year later, she graduated high school, and almost immediately inked a $12 million shoe deal with Puma. In 1999, she beat out her sister in their race to the family’s first Grand Slam win, when she captured the U.S. Open title.
It set the stage for a run of high-powered, high-profile victories for both Williams sisters. With their signature style and play, Venus and Serena changed the look of their sport as well. Their sheer power and athletic ability overwhelmed opponents, and their sense of style and presence made them standout celebrities on the court.
In 2002, Serena 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 six women in the Open era to complete a career Grand Slam. The win also fulfilled her desire to hold all four major titles simultaneously to comprise 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.
Serena has gone on to complete an amazing career as an elite tennis champion giving birth to her baby in 2017 vowing to return to the game she dominates.
Williams has also, since 2002, explored acting, appearing in several television episodes and pursuing film roles as well. In addition, she has, along with her sister studied fashion design and has her own range of clothing for women.
“My designs are inspired by all women. I want women to know that it’s okay to love and embrace who you are… to be unapologetically bold and beautiful in anything you’re wearing. Through HSN, my Signature Statement collection is about empowering fans everywhere to connect with this message”.