Serena Williams is not a name which is unheard of, she is a world renowned The story of Serena Williams icon, and even those who do not religiously follow the sport, know of her incredible feats that makes her one of the greatest of all time. Statistically, she is the best Grand Slam player of all time with on-court numbers like 23 Grand Slam in singles – the most in Open era – along with 14 doubles and 2 mixed doubles, Career Golden Slam in both singles and doubles, two ‘Serena Slams’.
Whilst on-court, she is no doubt a legend, her off-court work in order to advocate for and open opportunities for women in sport that are of colour, cannot even be fathomed. Her story is an empowering one. A tale of despair and adversity which was braved with immense courage as 14-year-old Williams took off her career in tennis. Now, nearing 41, as she retires, let’s take a look at the powerhouse Serena Williams is, both on and off-court, with a personality that is often swept under the radar of a famous sports person.
Whilst the glory is in bold for generations to witness, there are controversies and setbacks that Williams had to deal with through her career, which transformed her into the person she is today. She had to travel through a journey of racism, sexism, crass comments from peers, life-threatening illnesses and life-saving surgeries, mental blocks (especially after the maternity break), the timing of maternity break itself, and the ‘X on her back from 1999’ as she described the pressure of winning her first Major as a teen.
There are many instances that are an embodiment of her strength and resilience. Especially when she was booed by the largely-white crowd despite winning the 2001 Indian Wells after a player accused her father of manipulating Williams sisters matches. When she played and won the 2017 Australian Open whilst being two months pregnant. When she had to restart her career in 2011 after sustaining serious injuries. When she was penalized for alleged on-court coaching. When she injured herself in the first round of Wimbledon 2021 and couldn’t play for another year.
Despite all this, she endured and fought, paving the path for many in the future, to make the journey easier for them.
She was attacked on so many occasions for so many reasons. She was trolled for being Black. For being a woman. For being an entrepreneur as she had a “little attention span”. For not fitting into the ideals of beauty standardized by society due to her athletic physique. Up until her retirement where people offered their unsolicited comments, saying “she’s a great tennis player, she should retire instead of struggling” as she was forced to make what was probably the hardest decision of her life.
Her fight story is indeed inspirational. A story of a fierce woman, braving the odds and every obstacle that came her way. A story of someone who hates losing, yet had to succumb to the agony of being slowed down, yet being graceful and strong about everything. A story of someone who went from ruthless brilliance as a teenager to the sustained excellence before her struggles after giving birth.
Serena Williams, rose above it all, and more, to truly be the Greatest of All Time!