Cover Serena Williams plays a forehand during the Ladies Singles first round match against Amra Sadikovic. (Photo: Getty Images)

As one of the world's greatest tennis players retires her racket, we take a look at how she redefined the sport and pushed it forward in leaps and bounds

An era is finally coming to a close after American tennis player Serena Williams announced on August 9 that she will be retiring from the sport that propelled her to fame and right into sporting history.

In US Vogue’s September cover story, Williams made the announcement by saying that she will be “evolving away from tennis” and that she will be focusing more on her work as an entrepreneur, philanthropist, and mother.

Don’t miss: Who Is Harmony Tan? Meet the French Tennis Player Who Beat Serena Williams

The news sent ripples through the tennis community as many contemplated the sport without one of the greatest tennis players of all time present. Truly, Williams has been an impressive force to be reckoned with after clawing her way to winning 23 Grand Slam titles, a record for any player, male or female, in the Open era. She also shares a record of 186 consecutive weeks spent as world number one on the Women’s Tennis Association (WTA) rankings with Steffi Graf.

The way Williams overcame racism, sexism, depression and crippling illnesses to finish at the top is undeniably a remarkable story and one that will keep her in history books for decades to come. 

Below, we highlight some of the greatest and most historic sporting moments in her career.

1. Her First Grand Slam Singles Title

You don’t get to be one of the world’s top tennis players without years of hard work and Williams certainly put in that work. She started playing when she was only four years old and worked her way up slowly.

Word started spreading about a talented Black player in the late 1990s when Williams and her sister, Venus, were just starting to break into the public’s awareness. 

In 1998, Williams began competing in her first Grand Slam, slowly moving her way up the rankings to reach number 20 by the end of that year’s tour.

The next year, Williams faced off against world number one Martina Hingis in the US Open semifinals and won in straight sets. 

This was a key moment in Williams’ career as it catapulted her into the focus of players and fans worldwide.

2. Her First World Number One Ranking in 2002

In 2002, Williams defeated Jennifer Capriati in the semi-finals at Roland-Garros which brought her face to face with Venus. She took the match 7-5, 6-3 which marked her first French Open win.

Soon after, Williams again defeated her sister who was, at that time, Wimbledon’s two-time defending champion. This win in London propelled her to the world’s number one spot. 

Williams continued to hold this spot for the next 57 weeks. 

3. Her First Serena Slam

In 2003, shortly after besting her sister and beginning what is known today as the Serena Slam (winning all four Grand Slams in a row), Williams became the first player to hold the four major titles simultaneously since Steffi Graf in 1994.

This achievement meant that she would battle it out with her sister once again at the Australian Open. The sisters fought hard across three sets but Williams once again was victorious.

4. When She Defeated Maria Sharapova at the Australian Open

Soon after she defended her second consecutive Wimbledon title in 2003, Williams was forced to take a break after suffering a knee injury that kept her off the courts for the rest of the year. During her recovery, her older half-sister, Yetunde Price, was shot and killed in a case of mistaken identity relating to gang violence.

Williams plunged into depression following her death and struggled deeply for many years. In 2007, Williams made a spectacular comeback when she returned to the Australian Open.

She was ranked 84th at that point but fought her way to the final where she faced off against Maria Sharapova and defeated her in straight sets, 6-1, 6-2. 

5. When She Became the Oldest Number One in the History of Women’s Tennis

In 2011, a blood clot led to a pulmonary embolism which resulted in Williams having to fight for her life in hospital. 

However, there was no stopping the tennis champion who returned just a year later ready to claw her way to the top once again. 

In 2013, at the age of 31, she once again claimed the world’s number one spot for the third time. This resulted in her becoming the oldest number one in the history of women’s tennis.

6. When She Won the Australian Open While Pregnant

Women can achieve anything they want and Williams dedicated her career to proving just that. She showed her strength in 2017 when she won the Australia Open while pregnant.

After defeating Venus in the Australian Open final, Williams secured her status as the most prolific Grand Slam winner of the Open era with 23 titles.

It was revealed a few months later that Williams, who was 35 at the time, was actually eight weeks pregnant when she achieved this milestone and that she herself had only learned of this fact days before.

NOW READ

Lebron James Is Officially a Billionaire, the First Active NBA Player to Achieve This

Formula 1 Singapore: Here are the Musicians Performing This Year

Singapore Sprinter Shanti Pereira Sets Two National Records at the Commonwealth Games

© 2022 Tatler Asia Limited. All rights reserved.