• Megan Rapinoe...
• Alex Morgan...
• Simon Biles...
• Coco Gauff...
• Naomi Osaka...
• Serena Williams...
With 10 World Cup goals, 10 Olympic Gold Medals, and 25 Grand Slam titles between them, these are the women changing the world of professional sportson and off the field!
But what's next?
Get the full Scoop! and more on the world's most inspiring female athletes.
About the Author
Read an Excerpt
There can only be one queen in any sport. In tennis, that seat indisputably belongs to Serena Williams. You can argue that she might soon be dethroned by one of the young phenoms nipping at her Nike heels. (More on them later!) But even in the throes of a Grand Slam loss, Serena still reigns supreme as the best and most famous female tennis player in the world—and the richest. She is the ultimate competitor. And she’s the most glam superstar of her sport, of any sport really. Serena Williams is a role model for women who value strength, excellence, and success. (And look good doing it.) And on top of all that, now she’s a role model for working moms.
What makes Serena’s story unique is that, unlike most of the tennis stars who preceded her, she comes from humble beginnings. Tennis was a country club sport for the white, privileged set until the Williams family smashed that tradition. Serena and her older sister, Venus, weren’t born with golden rackets in their hands. They started training on public tennis courts in Compton, California. Yup. The Compton of movie and music fame.
“We literally took the globe and shook it, me and Venus, because we came from Compton. We came from nothing. And in tennis you kind of have to be . . . you have to have something.”
Serena and Venus were born in Saginaw, Michigan, to Richard Williams and Oracene Price. Richard has children from previous marriages and Oracene has three additional daughters. When Venus and Serena were little girls, their dad saw a tennis match on television and was blown away by the size of the winner’s check, so he decided to teach himself the game. And then he decided to teach his daughters.
Here’s the SCOOP! Mr. Williams wrote a 78-page plan to teach his daughters tennis. Serious props to Dad!
When Serena was nine, the Williams family moved to West Palm Beach, Florida, where the girls could train at Rick Macci’s tennis academy. But Serena and Venus didn’t spend much time on the junior circuit like the other players. Their father believed they should spend more time on schoolwork. And they had witnessed some racism: He heard white parents saying nasty things about his daughters.
Turns out they didn’t need to spend a lot of time on the junior circuit. When Venus was fourteen, she won her first professional match. And just three years later, she made the finals of her first US Open. With Venus suddenly getting national attention, Richard Williams told people Serena was the better player.
He was right.
Serena would eventually overshadow her big sis. When she was sixteen, she started playing professional tournaments. And by the time she was eighteen, she won the first Williams’ family Grand Slam title at the US Open.
Did it get weird between them once Serena became the better player and bigger star? Maybe. They’ve both admitted it’s awkward when they play each other. Someone has to win, and more times than not, it’s advantage Serena. But they’ve played and won many doubles tournaments together as teammates. And Venus is always supportive of Serena, saying her first responsibility is as big sister. Serena has said, “Family’s first and that’s what matters most. We realize that our love goes deeper than the game.”
But that doesn’t mean Serena doesn’t love the game. Puh-lease! The woman is passionate about tennis, and she has twenty-three Grand Slam wins in her crown to prove it! That’s the most by any man or woman, post 1960s. She also holds the most singles, doubles, and mixed doubles tournament wins combined of any other tennis player playing today.