Serena Williams became a professional tennis player in 1995 and has not slowed down since. Along with her older sister, Venus, Williams has dominated women’s tennis for nearly two decades. This year was especially amazing for the all-star athlete.
Williams was born in Michigan in 1981, the youngest in a family with five girls. Her family soon moved to California, where she first learned tennis from her father on public tennis courts outside of Los Angeles. Williams would practice for hours every day. In 1991, she joined the junior United States Tennis Association tour and ranked first in the age 10-and-under division. By 1997, just two years after turning professional, Williams was ranked 99 in the world.
Serena was the first of the Williams sisters to win a Grand Slam title. In 1999, she won the U.S. Open. At the 2000 Olympics in Sydney, Australia, Serena and Venus won gold medals in the doubles event. Serena went on to sweep 23 Grand Slam titles during the decade. But in 2011, Williams had a blood clot in one of her lungs. Her health issues kept her out of the game for several months.
After taking time to recover, Williams came back strong. In 2013, she took her second French Open title, and first in more than a decade, and fifth U.S. Open singles title. She currently holds the most singles, doubles, and mixed doubles titles combined amongst tennis players, male or female. Williams had a total of 78 wins in 2013. At the age of 32, she continues to be at the top of the game, while many tennis athletes her age begin to wind down their careers.
Off the court, Williams serves as a UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador.
She also founded The Serena Williams Secondary School in Kenya, Africa. Williams continues to make appearances at schools and community organizations, particularly for at-risk students.
For her history-making wins and charitable work around the world, Serena Williams is a nominee for TFK’s 2013 Person of the Year.
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