Half of the Williams
“Luck has nothing to do with it because I have spent many, many hours, countless hours, on the court working for my one moment in time, not knowing when it would come.” Serena Williams
WTA's (Women's Tennis Association) former World No. 1 ranked female tennis player Serena Williams, the younger sister to tennis champion Venus Williams, has won eight Grand Slam singles titles and an Olympic gold medal in women's doubles (with Venus). As of June 2008, Serena, who earned her first grand slam singles title at the U.S. Open in 1999, is the No. 6 female tennis player in the world.
"Venus told me that champions don't get nervous in tight situations. That really helped me a lot. I decided I shouldn't get nervous and just do the best I can." Serena Williams
The African-American professional tennis player from Saginaw, Michigan, has also appeared in guest roles on "The Simpsons," "My Wife and Kids," “ER,” “Law & Order: Special Victims Unit,” and her favorite show, “Avatar: The Last Airbender.” She has also appeared in music videos for rapper Memphis Bleek's single "Do My" and rapper Common’s single "I Want You."
Serena, who is known for her flamboyant fashion choices on the court, has her own clothing line called "Aneres," which is her name spelled backwards. She has launched her own line for Puma and Nike as well and was featured in the 2004 40th Anniversary Edition of the “Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue.” She was also one of the 12 "Coolest Girls in Sports" in the November 2001 issue of “Sports Illustrated Women.”
On a more personal note, the 5' 10" tennis player, who was one of “People Magazine's” “100 Most Beautiful People in the World” (2007) and “The 25 Most Intriguing People of 1999," dated film director and music-video director Brett Ratner from 2004 to 2005. She is reportedly dating rapper Common now.
Childhood and Family:
Born in Saginaw, Michigan, on September 26, 1981, Serena Jameka Williams moved with her family to the poor and sometimes violent Los Angeles suburb of Compton. Her father, who would later become her coach and manager, dreamed of having a daughter who was a tennis superstar so that they would have a chance to get out of the rough neighborhood and have a better life.
The youngest of five daughters born to Richard and Oracene (also called Brandy; divorced), Serena has four older sisters, Yetunde, Lyndrea, Isha, and Venus. Yetunde was tragically murdered in a random shooting in Compton, California, in 2003.
Serena and her sisters were homeschooled. In 1993, she and Venus enrolled in coach Rick Macci's elite Tennis Academy in Florida and the entire family moved to Palm Beach Gardens. She currently lives in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida, with Venus and her pets. Serena is good friends with socialite hotel heiress Paris Hilton.
Serena Williams entered and won her first tournament when she was only four and a half and won nearly every match she entered at the junior level. By the age of 10, she had participated in 49 tournaments and only lost 3 of them. At 12, Serena moved to West Palm Beach to attend an elite tennis school run by professional player Rick Macci.
Serena went pro at 14 and participated in non-WTA events because of her young age. In her first major tournament at the 1995 Bell Challenge in Quebec, the newcomer was beaten by her opponent and two years later, in 1997, she got her first big break at a 1997 Ameritech-sponsored tournament in Chicago, where she played and beat players Monica Seles (No. 4) and Mary Pierce (No. 7).
Serena finished 1997 at number 99 in the world and became a top 20 player in 1998. As a qualifier, she defeated world number three Lindsay Davenport in a quarterfinal in Sydney, but in her first Grand Slam tournament, she lost to her sister Venus in the second round of the Australian Open. 1998 also saw Serena win the mixed doubles titles at Wimbledon and the U.S. Open with Max Mirnyi. She also won her first pro title in the Ladies' Doubles tournament alongside her sister Venus. The following year, she defeated Amelie Mauresmo and in March that year, she won the Tier I Pacific Life Open in Indian Wells, California, after defeating the World No. 2 Lindsay Davenport in the second round, the World No. 8 Mary Pierce in the quarterfinals, and the World No. 7 Steffi Graf in the three-set finals. Additionally, she defeated World No. 3 Monica Seles and World No. 1 Martina Hingis in route to the finals of the Tier I Sony Ericsson Open in Key Biscayne, Florida.
Serena made her top 10 debut as World No. 9 on April 5, 1999, while Venus was ranked sixth that same week. She then teamed up with Venus to win the women's doubles title at the French Open, but lost in the third round in singles.
During the summer hard court tournament in Los Angeles, Serena beat World No. 8 Arantxa Sanchez Vicario, World No. 1 Hingis, and Julie Halard-Decugis. Serena went on to beat World No. 2 Davenport and World No. 1 Hingis at the U.S. Open and eventually took the Grand Slam Cup in Munich after upsetting Venus in the finals. Serena, who won her singles match and doubles match (alongside Venus) during the tie between the United States and Russia in the finals of the Fed Cup, finished the year at World No. 4.
Entering the new millennium, Serena's performance declined slightly. She lost to Venus at the Wimbledon semifinals and fell to Lindsay Davenport in straight sets in the quarterfinals of the US Open. However, she made a brilliant comeback when she won the gold medal at the Sydney Olympics for women's doubles, along with Venus, with whom she also took the women's doubles title at Wimbledon. Serena eventually finished the year at number six.
In the 2001 Australian Open, Serena was defeated by World No. 1 Martina Hingis at the quarterfinals, but won the women's doubles title alongside Venus. At the US Open, she defeated Hingis in the semifinals, but lost again to her sister Venus.
Serena defeated Capriati in the semifinals of the WTA Tour Championships and won the final by default when Lindsay Davenport withdrew because of an injury. She ended the year at No. 6.
In 2002 and 2003, Serena beat her older sister Venus to win the 2002 French Open, 2002 Wimbledon, 2002 US Open & the 2003 Australian Open, joining Martina Navratilova, Steffi Graf, Margaret Court, and Maureen Connolly to become the only women to have won four Grand Slam titles in a row. She finished 2002 with a 56–5 record, eight singles titles, and an overwhelming lead at number one.
In 2004, after eight months away from the tour, Serena began her comeback in Miami where she defeated Elena Dementieva in the finals, but lost in the French Open quarterfinals to Jennifer Capriati. At the finals of Wimbledon, she was surprisingly defeated by the 17-year old Russian player Maria Sharapova.
After withdrawing from a number of tournaments due to a knee injury, Serena returned to the U.S. Open where she lost a quarterfinal match to Capriati. She defeated the newly crowned U.S. Open champion, Svetlana Kuznetsova, in the finals of the China Open in Beijing, but lost to Sharapova in the finals of the WTA Tour Championships. Serena finished the year at World No. 8.
Serena earned her seventh Grand Slam singles title after winning the 2005 Australian Open. She lost to Venus at the Tier I Sony Ericsson Open in Key Biscayne, Florida, missed the French Open because of an injury and lost to Venus again at the U.S. Open.
In 2006, Serena's ranking fell out of the top 50 for the first time in many years and fell out of the top 100 for the first time in almost a decade. Soon afterward, she announced that she would miss both the French Open and Wimbledon because of a chronic knee injury. Although she said that she would not be able to compete before the end of the summer, Serena made a return to the game earlier than expected.
Serena faced 2007 determined to be No. 1 again. After defeating World No. 1 Justine Henin in the finals of the Sony Ericsson Open in Key Biscayne, Florida, Serena brought her ranking up to fifth in the world after the Kremlin Cup in Moscow, but her 2007 WTA Tour Championships in Madrid was short lived. She retired from her first match with Anna Chakvetadze due to injury and eventually withdrew from the tournament. She finished the year ranked seventh in the world.
Entering the 2008 Australian Open as the defending champion, Serena won her first four matches but lost in the quarterfinals to World No. 4 Jelena Jankovic. After withdrawing from her scheduled tournaments because of dental surgery, she defeated sister Venus in the semifinals and Patty Schnyder of Switzerland in the finals of the Tier II Bangalore (India) Open. She also won her fifth career singles title at the Tier I Sony Ericsson Open in Key Biscayne, Florida.
Meanwhile, Serena has also been involved in the entertainment industry. She was featured with Venus on a 2001 episode of “The Simpsons” and had a deleted cameo scene in Martin Lawrence's “Black Knight.” She also made an appearance in rapper Memphis Bleek's video, "Do My" featuring Jay-Z, and in the music video for rapper Common’s single "I Want You." Additionally, she guest-starred on dramas like “ER,” “Law & Order: Special Victims Unit,” and on her favorite show, “Avatar: The Last Airbender.”
Serena has starred in TV commercials for McDonalds and Double-Mint Gum with sister Venus, as well as on print ads for Close-Up toothpaste "Serena Williams Limited Edition" Red Gel, the Wilson Hyper Hammer 6.3 Hyper-Carbon racket, Avon, milk campaigns, and Vicks Sinus NyQuil & DayQuil products.
"I'm afraid I'm already a shopaholic. Fortunately, I'm no longer in denial and the first step to recovering is getting out of denial." Serena Williams
Serena, who is known for her flamboyant fashion choices on the court, is also a certified fashion designer and has her own clothing line called "Aneres," which is her name spelled backwards. She has launched her own line for Puma and Nike as well. She is also a model and has participated in a semi-nude photo spread in “Jane Magazine” in the July 2007 issue.
WTA Comeback Player of the Year: 2004
World Sportswoman of the Year: 2002
Associated Press Female Athlete of the Year: 2002
ITF World Champion: 2002
WTA Player of The Year: 2002
WTA Doubles Team of the Year (with Venus Williams): 2000
WTA Most Improved Player: 1999
WTA Newcomer of the Year: 1998