Her total of 23 Grand Slam singles titles marks the record for the most Grand Slam wins by a tennis player in the Open Era, and is second on the all-time list behind Margaret Court (24). She is the only tennis player in history (man or woman) to have won singles titles at least six times in three of the four Grand Slam tournaments, and the only player ever to have won two of the four Grand Slams seven times each (seven Wimbledon titles and seven Australian Open titles). She is also the only tennis player to have won 10 Grand Slam singles titles in two separate decades. She has won an all-time record of 13 Grand Slam singles titles on hard court. Williams holds the Open Era record for most titles won at the Australian Open (7) and shares the Open Era record for most titles won at the US Open with Chris Evert (6). She also holds the all-time record for the most women's singles matches won at the Grand Slams with 316 matches.
She has won 14 Grand Slam doubles titles, all with her sister Venus, and the pair are unbeaten in Grand Slam doubles finals. As a team, she and Venus have the third most women's doubles grand slam titles, behind the 18 titles of Natasha Zvereva (14 with Gigi Fernández) and the record 20 titles won by Martina Navratilova and Pam Shriver. Williams is also a five-time winner of the WTA Tour Championships in the singles division. Serena has also won four Olympic gold medals, one in women's singles and three in women's doubles—an all-time record shared with her sister, Venus. The arrival of the Williams sisters has been credited with ushering in a new era of power and athleticism on the women's professional tennis tour. Williams was the highest paid female athlete in 2016, earning $28.9 million in prize money and endorsements. She repeated this feat in 2017 when she was the only woman on Forbes' list of the 100 highest paid athletes. She has won the Laureus Sportswoman of the Year award three times (2003, 2010, 2016), and in December 2015, she was named Sportsperson of the Year by Sports Illustrated magazine.
Williams was born in Saginaw, Michigan to Richard Williams and Oracene Price, and is the youngest of Price's five daughters: half-sisters Yetunde, Lyndrea, and Isha Price, and full sister Venus. When the children were young, the family moved to Compton, California, where Williams started playing tennis at the age of three. Her father, Richard, home-schooled Serena and her sister Venus. While he and subsequently her mother, Oracene, have been the official coaches, other mentors who helped her learn the game included Richard Williams, a Compton man who shared her father's name and would go on to found The Venus and Serena Williams Tennis/Tutorial Academy.
When Williams was nine, her family and she moved from Compton to West Palm Beach, Florida, so that she could attend the tennis academy of Rick Macci; Macci began to provide additional coaching. Macci did not always agree with Williams' father, but respected that "he treated his daughters like kids, allowed them to be little girls". Richard stopped sending his daughters to national junior tennis tournaments when Williams was 10, since he wanted them to take it slow and focus on school work. Experiences of racism also drove this experience, as Richard Williams had heard white parents talk about the Williams sisters in a derogatory manner during tournaments. At that time, Williams had a 46–3 record on the United States Tennis Association junior tour and was ranked number one among under-10 players in Florida. In 1995, when Williams was in the ninth grade, her father pulled his daughters out of Macci's academy and, from then on, took over all coaching at their home. When asked in 2000 whether having followed the normal path of playing regularly on the junior circuit would have been beneficial, Williams responded: "Everyone does different things. I think for Venus and I, we just attempted a different road, and it worked for us."
Williams is primarily a baseline player, and her game is built around taking immediate control of rallies with her powerful and consistent serve, return of serve, and forceful groundstrokes from both her forehand and backhand swings. Williams' forehand is considered to be among the most powerful shots in the women's game, as is her double-handed backhand. Williams strikes her backhand groundstroke using an open stance, and uses the same open stance for her forehand. Williams' aggressive play, a "high risk" style, is balanced in part by her serve, which most say is the greatest in women's tennis history. She consistently projects great pace and placement with her serves; in the 2013 Australian Open, she had a peak serve speed of 128.6 mph (207.0 km/h) which is the third fastest all-time among female players (only Venus's 129 mph and Sabine Lisicki's 131 mph recorded speeds are faster). What makes her serve even more deadly is her ball placement and her ability to consistently place powerful shots with great accuracy. At the 2012 Championships at Wimbledon, she hit a women's tournament record of 102 aces, which was more than any of the men hit during the two weeks, a rarity given that aces are more Common in the men's game. Williams also possesses a very solid and powerful overhead. Although many think of Williams as only an offensive player, she also plays a strong defensive game. She has stated that her favorite surface is Clay because it gives her extra time to set up her shots.
Williams is known for producing exceptional comebacks, particularly on the Grand Slam level. She has won three Grand Slam singles titles after saving match points, (the 2003 Australian Open final versus Kim Clijsters, the 2005 Australian Open final versus Maria Sharapova, and the 2009 Wimbledon final versus Elena Dementieva), a feat achieved more often than any other player in history. She also came back from a 3–5 deficit in the third set against Kim Clijsters in the 1999 US Open en route to her first Grand Slam singles title. In the 2012 US Open final against Victoria Azarenka, she was down 3–5 in the third set and found herself two points away from losing the match. Williams then proceeded to win the next 4 games and defeated Azarenka. In the semi-finals of the 2015 French Open, Williams was ill and barely able to walk during changeovers, yet beat her opponent, Timea Bacsinszky, 6–0 in the third set. Another improbable win occurred in the third round of the 2015 Wimbledon Championships, when she recovered from two breaks of service in the third set to defeat Great Britain's number-one female player, Heather Watson. Williams has bounced back from a set down to win in 37 Grand Slam matches.
In recent years, Williams has shown an ability to serve aces at critical moments. One of these instances was the 2013 French Open final, where in the last game of the match, she fired three aces, including one which clocked at 123 mph (198 km/h) on match point. She repeated the feat similarly against Angelique Kerber in the finals of the 2016 Wimbledon Championships to tie the Open Era record for Grand Slam singles titles. Williams fired three un-returnable serves in her final service game before winning the match and the title with a casual forehand volley on the next point.
Williams' parents wanted their daughter to wait until she was 16 to participate in professional tournaments. However, in 1995 just after turning 14, Williams planned to make her professional debut as a wild-card entry in the Bank of the West Classic in Oakland, California, but was denied by the WTA due to age-eligibility restrictions of the organization. She subsequently filed an antitrust lawsuit against the women's tour, but withdrew it at the behest of her parents. Her first professional event was in October 1995 at the Bell Challenge in Quebec, where she used a wild-card entry to circumvent age-eligibility rules. She lost in the first round of qualifying to then 18-year-old American Annie Miller, winning just two games.
Williams did not play a tournament in 1996. The following year, she lost in the qualifying rounds of three tournaments, before winning her first main-draw match in November at the Ameritech Cup Chicago. Ranked world number 304, she upset world number 7 Mary Pierce and world number 4 Monica Seles, recording her first career wins over top 10 players and becoming the lowest-ranked player in the open era to defeat two top 10 opponents in one tournament. She ultimately lost in the semifinals to world number 5 Lindsay Davenport. She finished 1997 ranked world number 99.
Williams began 1998 at the Medibank International Sydney. As a qualifier ranked world number 96, she defeated world number three Davenport in the quarterfinals, before losing to Arantxa Sánchez Vicario in the semifinals. Williams made her debut in the main draw of a Grand Slam tournament at the Australian Open, where she defeated sixth-seeded Irina Spîrlea in the first round, before losing to sister Venus in the second round in the sisters' first professional match. Williams reached six other quarterfinals during the year, but lost all of them, including her first match against world number one-ranked Martina Hingis at the Lipton International Players Championships in Key Biscayne, and her second match against Venus at the Italian Open in Rome. She failed to reach the quarterfinals of any Grand Slam tournament the remainder of the year, losing in the fourth round of the French Open to Arantxa Sánchez Vicario, and the third round of the US Open to Spîrlea. She withdrew from Wimbledon two games into a match with Virginia Ruano Pascual, after straining her calf muscle during the first set. She did, however, win the mixed doubles titles at Wimbledon and the US Open with Max Mirnyi, completing the Williams family's sweep of the 1998 mixed doubles Grand Slam tournaments. Williams won her first professional title in doubles in Oklahoma City with Venus, becoming the third pair of sisters to win a WTA title. Williams and her sister won two more doubles titles together during the year. Williams finished the year ranked world No. 20 in singles. To date, 1998 is the only year in which Williams failed to win a Grand Slam when she competed at all four of the major events.
A 16-year-old Serena competed in a tennis "Battle of the Sexes", along with her sister Venus Williams, against Karsten Braasch at the 1998 Australian Open. At the time Braasch was ranked 203rd. The Williams sisters had claimed they could beat any man outside the top 200, and he accepted the challenge. Not known for having an ideal training regimen, Braasch nonetheless beat both Williams sisters, playing a single set against each. The score vs Serena was 6–1 and vs Venus 6–2. Braasch said afterwards, "500 and above, no chance." The girls later tweaked the number to beating men outside the top 350.
Williams lost in the third round of the 1999 Australian Open to Sandrine Testud. A month later, Williams won her first professional singles title when she defeated Amélie Mauresmo in the final of the Open Gaz de France in Paris. With Venus also winning the IGA Superthrift Classic in Memphis, Tennessee that day, the pair became the first sisters to win professional tournaments in the same week. In March of that year, at the Evert Cup in California, Williams won her first Tier I title, defeating Steffi Graf in the final. Soon afterwards at the Lipton International Players Championships, Williams had her 16-match winning streak ended by her sister in the first all-sister singles final in WTA history, and she then made her top-10 debut, at world number nine. She then lost in the quarterfinals of the Italian Open and the German Open, and the third round of the French Open, where she and Venus won the women's doubles title. Williams then missed Wimbledon because of injury. When she returned to the tour, Williams won a Fed Cup singles match and then won the JPMorgan Chase Open in Los Angeles, beating Julie Halard-Decugis in the final. She then defeated in succession Grand Slam champions Kim Clijsters, Conchita Martínez, Monica Seles, and defending champion Lindsay Davenport to reach the US Open final, where she defeated world number one Hingis to become the second African-American woman, after Althea Gibson in 1958, to win a Grand Slam singles tournament. The Williams sisters also won the doubles title at this tournament. To complete her 1999 season, Williams won a doubles match in the Fed Cup final against Russia. Williams ended the year ranked world No. 4 in just her second full year on the main tour.
Williams started 2000 by losing in the fourth round of the Australian Open to Elena Likhovtseva. She failed to defend her titles in Paris and Indian Wells, although she did win the Faber Grand Prix in Germany. Soon afterwards, Williams missed the French Open because of injury. She returned from injury at Wimbledon, where she lost to Venus in the semifinals, but the pair won the doubles title at the event. Williams successfully defended her title in Los Angeles, defeating Davenport in the final. She reached the final of the Du Maurier Open where an injury forced her to retire from her match with Hingis. Her defense of the US Open title ended when she lost in the quarterfinals to Davenport. Williams teamed with Venus to win the gold medal in doubles at the Sydney Olympics that September. She ended the year winning the Toyota Princess Cup in Japan and she finished the year ranked world number six.
Williams began 2001 losing to Martina Hingis in the quarterfinals of the Medibank International in Sydney and the Australian Open in Melbourne. Williams and her sister won the doubles title at the latter tournament, becoming only the fifth doubles team in history to win all four Grand Slam women's doubles titles during their career, completing a "Career Grand Slam". Her next event was the Pacific Life Open in California, where she defeated Kim Clijsters in the final. However, the final was marred by the behavior of the crowd towards Williams and her family. The crowd were incensed at the perceived match fixing of games involving the family after Venus withdrew before their semifinal. Neither Williams nor her sister entered the tournament for fourteen years until Williams entered in 2015 as a wild-card (and the top seed). The following week at the Ericsson Open in Miami, Williams lost to Jennifer Capriati in the quarterfinals. She then lost in the quarterfinals to Capriati at both the French Open and Wimbledon. This was the fourth consecutive Grand Slam tournament at which Williams had exited in the quarterfinals. During the North American hard-court season, she lost in the quarterfinals of Los Angeles against Monica Seles, then captured her second title of the year at the Rogers Cup, defeating Capriati in the final. Williams reached the final of the 2001 US Open, losing to sister Venus. That was the first Grand Slam tournament final contested by two sisters during the open era. At the 2001 season-ending Sanex Championships, Williams won the championship by walkover when Davenport withdrew before the start of the final due to a knee injury. Williams finished 2001 at world number six for the second straight year.
Injury forced Williams to retire from the semifinal at the 2002 Medibank International Sydney and later withdraw from the 2002 Australian Open.
Returning from injury, Williams won her first title of the year in Scottsdale, Arizona, defeating world No. 2 Jennifer Capriati in the final. She then won the Miami Masters for the first time, becoming one of three players in the open era to defeat the world's top 3 at one tournament, after beating world No. 3 Martina Hingis in the quarterfinals, world No. 2 Venus in the semifinals, and world No. 1 Capriati in the final. Serena's straight set win over Venus was her second career win over her sister. Williams played three clay-court tournaments before the 2002 French Open. Her first tournament was at Charleston, where she was the third seed. Williams reached the quarterfinals before losing to Patty Schnyder. She reached her first clay-court final in May, at the Eurocard German Open losing to Justine Henin in a third set tiebreak. Williams went on to win her first clay court title at the Italian Open, defeating Capriati in the semifinals and Henin in the final. This raised her ranking to a new high of No. 3. Williams was the third seed at the French Open at Roland Garros, where she claimed her first title there by defeating defending champion Capriati in the semifinals and sister Venus in the final to win her second Grand Slam tournament title (and her first in two-and-a-half years). As a result of raising the trophy at Court Philippe Chatrier, Williams rose to a career high of No. 2, second only to Venus.
At the 2002 Wimbledon Championships, Williams won tennis' oldest championship for the first time in her life, defeating Venus to win a Grand Slam singles title without dropping a set for the first time in her career. This victory earned Williams the world No. 1 ranking for the first time in her life, dethroning her sister and becoming only the third African-American woman to hold that ranking. The Williams sisters also won the doubles title at the tournament, the fifth Grand Slam doubles title for the pair. Williams played just one tournament between Wimbledon and the US Open, losing in the quarterfinals of the JPMorgan Chase Open in Los Angeles to American Chanda Rubin and ending a 21-match winning streak. The top-seeded player at the US Open, Williams reached the final where, for the third Grand Slam in a row, she defeated her sister to win the title, the second Wimbledon crown of her career. Williams won two consecutive singles titles in the fall, defeating Kim Clijsters to win the Toyota Princess Cup in Tokyo, and Anastasia Myskina to win the Sparkassen Cup in Leipzig, Germany. She reached the final at the year-end Home Depot Championships at the Staples Center in Los Angeles, where she lost to fifth-seeded Clijsters in straight sets, ending an 18-match winning streak. Williams finished 2002 with a 56–5 W/L record, eight singles titles, and the world No. 1 ranking. She was the first African-American to end a year with that ranking since Althea Gibson in 1958 and was the first woman to win three Grand Slam tournament titles in one year since Hingis in 1997. Her three consecutive Grand Slam titles to close 2002 also made Williams only the third player in tennis history to win the "Surface Slam", three Slam titles on three surfaces in the same calendar year, after Navratilova (1984) and Graf (1993, 1995, 1996).
At the 2003 Australian Open, Williams reached the tournament's semifinals for the first time, where she recovered from 5–1 down in the third set and saved two match points before defeating Clijsters. In the finals of the tournament, Serena faced Venus for the fourth consecutive Grand Slam tournament final, defeating her older sister to become the sixth woman in the open era to complete a career Grand Slam, alongside Margaret Court, Billie Jean King, Chris Evert, Martina Navratilova, and Steffi Graf. She also became the fifth woman to hold all Grand Slam singles titles simultaneously, joining Maureen Connolly Brinker, Court, Graf, and Navratilova. This feat was dubbed the "Serena Slam" by the press. The Williams sisters won their sixth Grand Slam doubles title together at this event.
During the spring of 2003, Williams captured the singles titles at the Open Gaz de France and the Sony Ericsson Open. Williams' winning streak came to an end when she lost the final of the Family Circle Cup to Henin, her first loss of the year after 21 wins. She also lost to Mauresmo in the semifinals of the Internazionali BNL d'Italia in Rome. Despite these losses, Williams was the top seed at the French Open, where she lost in the semifinals to eventual champion Henin, marking Williams' first loss in a Grand Slam tournament since 2001. The match was controversial, as Williams questioned Henin's sportsmanship, and spectators applauded Williams' errors. Williams rebounded from the French Open loss a couple weeks later at the 2003 Wimbledon Championships, defeating Henin in the semifinals and Venus in the final. This was Williams' second consecutive Wimbledon title and her sixth Grand Slam singles title overall. Wimbledon was Williams' last tournament of 2003; she pulled out of three events in the USA and then underwent surgery on the quadriceps tendon in her knee in early August. Williams was initially expected to be out for six to eight weeks.
After eight months away from the tour, during which time her desire was questioned, Williams began her comeback at the 2004 Nasdaq-100 Open in Miami in March, where she made a triumphant return as she won the title.
This was the third consecutive year that Williams had won the tournament.
Although ranked world No. 7, Williams was seeded second at the French Open, where, after winning four matches, she lost to Capriati in the quarterfinals. This was the first time that Williams had lost before the semifinals at a Grand Slam singles tournament since Wimbledon in 2001. A few weeks later, even though her ranking had dropped to world No. 10, Serena was seeded first at Wimbledon. She won six matches in route to the final, where she was defeated by 13th-seeded Sharapova in straight sets. This loss caused her ranking to drop out of the top 10 for the first time since 1999. Later that summer, Williams reached her third final of the year at the JPMorgan Chase Open in Los Angeles where she lost to Lindsay Davenport which was her first loss to the American since the 2000 US Open. After missing her national championship in 2003, Williams returned for the 2004 US Open, where she was seeded third despite her world ranking of eleven. She lost in the U.S. Open quarterfinals to Capriati in three sets in controversial fashion. That fall, Williams won her second title of the year, at the China Open, defeating US Open champion Svetlana Kuznetsova in the final. Williamses successful season allowed her to qualify for the WTA Tour Championships, held again in Los Angeles. In the round-robin phase of the tournament, Williams defeated Dementieva and Anastasia Myskina and lost to Davenport, but still advanced to the elimination stage. After winning her semifinal, she lost to Sharapova in the final, where she suffered an abdominal injury. Williams finished 2004 ranked world No. 7, but did not win a Grand Slam singles tournament for the first season since 2001.
At the 2005 Australian Open, Williams rejected suggestions that she and sister Venus were a declining force in tennis, following Venus's early exit at the tournament. Williams saved three match points in defeating Sharapova 8–6 in the third set of their semifinal. In the final, Williams defeated top seed Davenport to win her second Australian Open singles title and seventh Grand Slam singles title, winning 12 of the last 15 games. The win moved Williams back to world No. 2. Williams stated that she was targeting the number one spot. Williams completed just two tournaments between the Australian Open and Wimbledon, losing to Venus in Miami and at Internazionali BNL d'Italia to Francesca Schiavone as Williams suffered a series of retirements and withdraws. A reoccurring ankle injury causing her to miss the French Open. She returned for Wimbledon as the fourth-seeded player, but was defeated in the third round by world No. 85 Jill Craybas. At the US Open, Williams lost to her sister Venus in the fourth round. This was the earliest the sisters had met in a Grand Slam tournament since their first meeting, at the 1998 Australian Open. Williams played just one more match that fall, a loss to world No. 127 Sun Tiantian at the tournament in Beijing. She failed to qualify for the year-end championship for the first time since 1998 and she finished the year 2005 ranked world No. 11, her first time finishing the season outside the top 10 since 1998.
Williams made her 2006 debut at the Australian Open. Defending the title, Williams lost to Daniela Hantuchová in the third round. After the tournament, Williams told the press that she was injured, blaming a lack of fitness and a knee injury for keeping her off the court. However, in her biography, Serena claims that she was actually suffering from depression. Serena stayed away from pro tennis for six months during the 2006 season. After she had shut herself off from the world for a period, Williams saw a therapist daily. After a chance meeting with a young girl who idolized Serena and believed that she could still win, Williams signed up to play in Cincinnati, her first tournament since Melbourne. Williams had slipped to 139 in the world, the lowest ranking she had held since 1997. On her return, Williams defeated Myskina and Bethanie Mattek, before losing in the semifinals to Vera Zvonareva. She also reached the semifinals in Los Angeles, losing to Janković in straight sets. At the US Open, Williams needed a wildcard to enter the tournament, as her ranking at the cut-off time was 139th in the world, outside the automatic 102. However her ranking had improved to 79th by the time the tournament came around. She lost to top-seeded Mauresmo in the fourth round. Following the U.S. Open, she did not play again in 2006, ending the year ranked world No. 95, her lowest year-end ranking since 1997.
Williams began 2007 with renewed confidence, stating her intention to return to the top of the rankings, a comment 1987 Wimbledon men's singles champion and commentator Pat Cash branded "deluded." Williams lost in the quarterfinals of the tournament in Hobart, Australia, a warm-up for the Australian Open. Williams was unseeded at the Australian Open because of her world No. 81 ranking and was widely regarded as "out of shape." Williams experienced a huge amount of pressure on herself prior to the tournament, coming from her fans and the press as well as Serena herself about her weight, focus and needing a good showing. Shortly before her first match, a representative from Nike paid Williams a visit in the players' lounge, informing her that if she didn't perform to her accustomed level, the company might drop her. Williams claimed that Nike's ultimatum meant that she would have to reach the quarterfinals at least. The distraction from Nike did not distract Williams, as she lost just three games to Mara Santangelo and defeated Anne Kremer in straight sets. By this point, a blister had developed on Williamses' foot and she had contracted a cold. In the third round, Williams found herself two points away from going home against Nadia Petrova, but fought back to win in three sets, which was her first win over a top-10 player since defeating Lindsay Davenport in the 2005 Australian Open final. Williams then made it all the way to the final, defeating Janković, Pe'ER and Vaidišová. Williams described them as "good players. Strong players. Players who certainly didn't expect an overweight, out-of-shape, has been champion like me to give them a game.". Williams also found herself two points from going out against Peer before turning it around. By the time Williams had reached the final, the cold and blister had both left. Previewing the finals, Tracy Austin stated that, although Serena had a great tournament, she believed that the ride was over and that Sharapova would have no trouble with Williams. Serena thought it was mean and unnecessary and used it as motivation along with other criticism. In the final, Williams lost just three games against Maria Sharapova winning her first title at any tournament since winning the 2005 Australian Open 24 months prior. Williams became the first player since Chris O'Neil to win the title whilst not being seeded, and claimed her third Australian Open and eighth Grand Slam singles title overall. The win elevated Williams to 14th in the rankings. Williams dedicated the title to her deceased half-sister Yetunde. Her performance in the final was described in the press as "one of the best performances of her career" and "arguably the most powerful display ever seen in women's tennis." In her post match interview, Williams took a swipe at her critics, stating that she had proved them wrong.
Williams won the Sony Ericsson Open in Miami for the fourth time after defeating Justine Henin. Williams had to record a come-from-behind win after being whitewashed in the first set and saving two match points in the second. Williams played for her country in the Fed Cup for the first time since 2003 in a tie against Belgium. Williams won her opening match, but withdrew from her second, because of a knee injury. At the French Open, Williams lost in the quarterfinals to Henin. During her fourth round match against Hantuchová at Wimbledon, Williams collapsed from an acute muscle spasm at 5–5 in the second set. After a medical timeout and holding serve to force a tiebreak, rain forced play to be suspended for nearly two hours. When the players returned, Williams won the match in three sets. Williams then lost her quarterfinal match with Henin, whilst suffering from the injuries sustained in the previous round. At the US Open, Williams lost her third consecutive Grand Slam singles quarterfinal to Henin. Williams reached the final of Kremlin Cup, losing to Elena Dementieva. Williams qualified for the WTA Championships, but retired from her first match with Anna Chakvetadze with a knee injury and subsequently withdrew from the tournament. Williams finished 2007 as world No. 7 and the top-ranked American for the first time since 2003.
Williams started 2008 by participating on the U.S. team that won the Hopman Cup with Mardy Fish. At the Australian Open she lost in the quarterfinals to Jelena Janković, her fourth straight loss in the quarterfinals of a Grand Slam singles tournament. In the women's doubles event, she and Venus were defeated in the quarterfinals. Williams withdrew from her next three scheduled tournaments because of an urgent need for dental surgery. Williams then won three consecutive singles titles at Bangalore and her fifth Miami title, tying Steffi Graf for the most singles titles at this tournament.
Williams won at the Family Circle Cup, her first clay-court title since the 2002 French Open. Her 17-match winning streak was ended by Dinara Safina in the quarterfinals of Berlin. Williams withdrew in Rome in the quarterfinals against Alizé Cornet due to a back injury. Williams was the only former winner of the French Open in the draw, but lost in the third round to Katarina Srebotnik.
At Wimbledon, Williams reached the finals for the first time in four years but lost to her older sister Venus in straight sets, in their first Slam final since 2003. Serena and Venus teamed to win the women's doubles title in their first Grand Slam women's doubles title since 2003. Williams played at Stanford, but retired 6–2, 3–1 down with a left knee injury from her semifinal match against qualifier Aleksandra Wozniak. The injury forced her to withdraw from Los Angeles. At the Olympics in Beijing, Williams lost to Dementieva in the quarterfinals. Serena and Venus won the gold medal in doubles, beating Anabel Medina Garrigues and Virginia Ruano Pascual in the final. At the US Open, Williams defeated sister Venus, Safina and Jelena Janković in the final. This was her third US Open and ninth Grand Slam singles title. The victory returned her to the world No. 1 ranking for the first time since 2003. At the Year-End Championships she defeated Safina and lost to Venus in her round-robin matches, but withdrew from her match against Dementieva, citing a stomach muscle injury. She ended 2008 ranked world No. 2 and with four singles titles, her strongest performance in both respects since 2003.
Williams began 2009 at the Medibank International losing in the semifinals to Elena Dementieva. At the Australian Open, she claimed her tenth Grand Slam singles title by defeating Dinara Safina in the final in 59 minutes. This win returned her to the world No. 1 ranking and resulted in her becoming the all-time career prize money leader in Women's sports, overtaking golfer Annika Sörenstam. In women's doubles, with Venus, they captured the title for the third time. At the Open GDF Suez, Williams withdrew before her semifinal with Dementieva because of a knee injury. Williams then played at Dubai, losing to Venus in the semifinals.
At the Sony Ericsson Open Williams, hampered with ankle and quad injuries, was upset in the final by Victoria Azarenka. This was the first of four consecutive losses for Williams, the longest losing streak of her career. She was defeated in her opening matches at Barcelona, Rome, and Madrid. Despite not having won a match on clay in 2009 before the French Open, she lost in the quarterfinals to the eventual champion Svetlana Kuznetsova. This ended her 18-match Grand Slam tournament winning streak. She rebounded at Wimbledon, saving a match point in defeating fourth seeded Dementieva in the semifinals. In the final, Serena defeated her sister Venus to win her third Wimbledon title and her 11th Grand Slam singles title. Williams and Venus teamed to win the women's doubles title at Wimbledon for the second consecutive year, their ninth Grand Slam tournament title in women's doubles.
As a US Open preparation, Williams played at Cincinnati losing in the third round, followed by a semifinal defeat at the Rogers Cup. At the US Open, she lost in the semifinals to eventual champion Kim Clijsters amid controversy involving shouting at a line judge when defending match point, an offense which cost Williams the point and consequently the match. She continued in the doubles competition, teaming up with Venus to win their third Grand Slam doubles title of the year and tenth of their career. Williams won all three of her round-robin matches at the year-end WTA Tour Championships, defeating Venus, Dementieva, and Kuznetsova, saving a match point against Venus. She then advanced to the final, when Wozniacki retired from their semifinal match. In the final, Williams defeated Venus for her second singles title at this event.
Williams finished the year ranked world No. 1 for the second time in her career, having played in 16 tournaments, more than any other year. She also broke the record previously set by Justine Henin for the most prize money earned by a female tennis player in one year, with Williams earning $6,545,586. In doubles, the Williams sisters finished the year ranked world No. 2, despite playing only six tournaments as a pair. She won five Grand Slam tournament titles, putting her total Grand Slam titles at 23. Williams was named Female Athlete of the Year by the Associated Press. She also was the ITF World Champion in singles and doubles.
In 2010, Williams' first scheduled tournament was in Sydney, losing in the final to Elena Dementieva. At the Australian Open, Williams was the defending champion in both singles and doubles. She reached the final, where she defeated Justine Henin for her twelfth Grand Slam singles title. In doubles, Serena and Venus successfully defended their title by defeating Cara Black and Liezel Huber in the final. Williams withdrew with a leg injury from her next events. She returned at the Rome Masters losing to Jelena Janković in the semifinals. At Madrid, she fell to Nadia Petrova in the third round and partnered Venus to win the doubles title. At the French Open, she lost to Samantha Stosur in the quarterfinals. She and Venus were the top seeds in the doubles event and won the title, defeating Květa Peschke and Katarina Srebotnik in the final to win their fourth consecutive Grand Slam doubles title and improved their doubles ranking to world No. 1.
Her next tournament was Wimbledon, where she defeated Russian Vera Zvonareva in the final without facing a break point and breaking the serve of Zvonareva three times. She did not lose a set in the tournament. After the match, Martina Navratilova said that Williams is in the top five of all the women's tennis players in all of history, which she said that "it's not just about how many Slams you win or how many tournaments you win—it's just your game overall. And she's definitely got all the goods." Serena was the defending champion in doubles with her sister Venus, winning the last two years. They lost in the quarterfinals to Elena Vesnina and Zvonareva. In Munich on July 7, Williams stepped on broken glass while in a restaurant, and the injury caused her to miss the rest of the year. She ended the year ranked No. 4 in singles, despite having played only six tournaments, and No. 11 in doubles after four tournaments. On March 2, 2011, she confirmed that she had suffered a hematoma and a pulmonary embolism.
Williams finally made a return to the practice court in March 2011. She made her first appearance on the WTA tour in almost a year in Eastbourne. Williams lost in round two to Vera Zvonareva, in a match that lasted over three hours. Her next tournament was Wimbledon, where she was the defending champion. She reached the round of 16, where she lost to Marion Bartoli. After the loss her ranking dropped to 169. Williams won her first titles since her return to tennis triumphing in Stanford and Toronto. At the Western & Southern Open, Serena defeated Lucie Hradecká, only to withdraw the next day, citing a right toe injury. She then played at the US Open going all the way to the final losing to Samantha Stosur, during a match which featured her verbally abusing the chair umpire. The US Open final turned out to be Williams' last match in 2011, and she ended the year ranked world No. 12 with 2 titles and with a 22–3 record for the season. She only participated in six tournaments throughout the season.
Williams started the 2012 season at the Brisbane International, however, during her match against Bojana Jovanovski, she injured her left ankle when serving for the match. As a result, Williams was forced to withdraw from the tournament. Next she participated at the Australian Open where she was upset by Ekaterina Makarova in the fourth round. After a month layoff, Williams returned to competition in Miami losing in the quarterfinals to Caroline Wozniacki. Williams then won consecutive titles at Charleston and Madrid beating Lucie Šafářová and Victoria Azarenka, but withdrew from her semifinal match against Li Na in Rome citing a lower back injury. Williams suffered her first ever loss in the opening round of a Grand Slam tournament at the French Open against Virginie Razzano. Williams notched up a 33–1 record for the second half of the season winning five titles in the process. Williams won her fifth Wimbledon singles title, her fourteenth Grand Slam title; setting a serving record of 24 aces by a female in a match as well as having the most aces, male or female, during the tournament (102). Williams returned to America to successfully defend her title in Stanford beating Coco Vandeweghe in the final. Serena then returned to Wimbledon to represent her country at the Olympic Games where she won gold, defeating rival Maria Sharapova in a dominating performance. Williams failed to drop more than three games per set en route to winning the medal. Williams undefeated streak ended with a loss in Cincinnati to Angelique Kerber. In New York City, Williams went on to win her fourth US Open singles title and her 15th career Grand Slam title overall beating Azarenka in the final. Williams ended the season by competing at the WTA Championships and went undefeated throughout the tournament to win the event for her third title. Serena Williams was voted WTA Player of the Year for the fourth time. Based on her brilliant show in 2012, Serena was also named International Tennis Federation World Champion. Williams also returned to doubles competitions with Venus; in the pair's first tournament since 2010 Wimbledon, they claimed their fifth Wimbledon doubles title and the 13th grand slam doubles title. The pair successfully defended their Olympic doubles title which meant that they became the only tennis players to win four gold medals.
Williams' first tournament of the 2013 season was in Brisbane, where she won the title without dropping a set. Williams was upset in the quarterfinals of the 2013 Australian Open by fellow American player Sloane Stephens. By virtue of defeating Petra Kvitová in Doha, Williams returned to the world No. 1 position for the sixth time in her career and became the oldest woman in the Open Era to hold the ranking. Williams went on to lose to Victoria Azarenka in the final. In the Miami final, Williams lost a set to Maria Sharapova for the first time since 2008. However, this setback did not stop Williams who recorded her seventieth come-from-behind win. The win made Williams a six-time champion in Miami breaking the record she held with Steffi Graf and became only the fourth woman in the open era to have won a tournament at least six times. Williams successfully defended her Charleston title, winning it for the third time overall. Williams won her fiftieth career singles title in Madrid, defeating Sharapova in the final. Williams then played Rome, where she won the title without dropping a set, defeating Victoria Azarenka in the final to take her second title. Williams only dropped ten games in reaching the quarterfinals at Roland Garros. There, she played Svetlana Kuznetsova and lost her first set of the tournament. In the semi final Williams only lost one game when she defeated Sara Errani, something seven-time French Open champion Chris Evert described as the finest female performance on clay she had ever seen. Williams defeated Sharapova to claim her second Roland Garros title, her sixteenth grand slam tournament title overall. She became the fourth woman in the Open era after Martina Navratilova, Chris Evert and Steffi Graf to win each Grand Slam tournament title on at least two occasions. At the 2013 Wimbledon Championships, she advanced easily to the fourth round before being upset by eventual finalist Sabine Lisicki in three sets. After Wimbledon, Williams won the Swedish Open by defeating Johanna Larsson in the final, the tournament win marked the first occasion that she had won an International level title. By winning the tournament this meant that Williams had managed to be undefeated on clay during the season.
Williams won her third Rogers Cup title in Toronto beating Sorana Cîrstea in the final. Williams reached the final of the Western & Southern Open for the first time but lost to Azarenka. At the 2013 US Open, Williams began as the top seed and defending champion. She reached the final—a rematch of the 2012 final against Azarenka—and won in three sets, capturing her 17th Grand Slam singles title. Williams became the oldest US Open champion in the Open Era and pushed her career prize money past $50 million. After the US Open, Williams headed to Beijing where she beat Jelena Janković to win the China Open for her 10th title of 2013. Williams went through the WTA championships undefeated winning the final against Li Na, to become the first person to defend the title since Justine Henin in 2007. Williams won her eleventh title of the year becoming the eighth player to win eleven tournaments or more in a year and the first since Martina Hingis in 1997. Additionally, Williams became the oldest person to win the WTA Championships and the fourth player to win the event four times or more. By winning the championship, Williams became the first woman to win more than ten million dollars in a season and with her total of $12,385,572, only Rafael Nadal, in 2013 and Novak Djokovic, in 2011, 2012 and 2013, have earned more money in a single season. Williams finished as the year end world No. 1 for the third time, becoming the oldest No. 1 player in WTA history. She was also named the 2013 ITF World Champion, the fourth time that she has been given the World Champion's crown. Williams received two prizes at the 2013 ESPY Awards. Williams won Best Female Athlete and Best Female Tennis Player. Williams is just the fourth person to win Best Female Athlete on two occasions and she won Best Female Tennis player for a record sixth time. In late December 2013, Williams capped off her year by receiving the Associated Press 2013 Female Athlete of the Year award, her third AP award after 2002 and 2009. Only two women, Chris Evert and Babe Didrikson, have been chosen more often as AP Athlete of the Year since the annual awards were first handed out in 1931.
Williams defended her title at the Brisbane International by defeating world No. 2 Victoria Azarenka in the final. At the Australian Open she ended up losing to former world No. 1 Ana Ivanovic in the fourth round. At the 2014 Dubai Tennis Championships, Williams lost her semi-final match to Alizé Cornet in straight sets. Williams next headed to the Miami Open where she won her record seventh title with a straight-sets victory over world No. 2 Li Na. Serena lost to Jana Čepelová in the second round of the Family Circle Cup. She made it to the quarterfinals at the Mutua Madrid Open before withdrawing with a left thigh injury. Williams won her third title of the season at the 2014 Internazionali BNL d'Italia. She was then handed the worst loss of her Grand Slam tournament career by Garbiñe Muguruza at the second round of the 2014 French Open, who defeated Serena losing just 4 games in two sets. Alizé Cornet defeated Williams for the second time in the year in the third round of Wimbledon, thus handing Serena her earliest Wimbledon exit since 2005. Serena was then forced to withdraw from the doubles event alongside sister Venus Williams while trailing 0–3 in the second round. A disoriented Serena hit 4 consecutive doubles faults and was having trouble with both her ball toss and movement before being removed from what has been described as one of the most unusual scenes ever seen in tennis.
Williams rebounded by winning 19 out of her next 20 matches (losing only to sister Venus in the semifinals of the Rogers Cup). This streak include titles at the Bank of the West Classic as well as her first Western & Southern Open title and her third consecutive and sixth overall US Open singles title which she won without having dropped a set. With this victory Serena tied Chris Evert for most singles titles won by a woman at the US Open in the Open Era. Williams also tied Evert and Martina Navratilova's 18 Grand Slam singles titles won in the Open Era. By virtue of having won both the US Open and the US Open Series, Williams collected $4,000,000 – the biggest payday in tennis history. At the Wuhan Open a viral illness forced her to retire while up a break in the first set against Alizé Cornet. Cornet thus became the first woman since Justine Henin in 2007 to record three victories over Williams in one year. At the China Open Williams retired prior to her quarterfinal match versus Samantha Stosur. At the 2014 WTA Finals in Singapore Serena advanced to the final for the third consecutive year despite having equaled her career worst loss in her second round robin match versus Simona Halep. Williams won her fifth WTA Finals title by avenging her loss to Halep in the championship match for her seventh title of the year. Serena finished the year ranked world No. 1 for the fourth time in her career. She held the No. 1 ranking for the entire calendar year, a feat not accomplished since Steffi Graf in 1996. She was also voted WTA Player of the Year and ITF World Champion for a third consecutive year (sixth overall).
Williams began the 2015 season by representing the United States alongside John Isner at the Hopman Cup. The American pair lost the final to the Poland. At the Australian Open Williams defeated Maria Sharapova of Russia for the sixteenth consecutive time to claim her 6th Australian Open singles title and 19th career Grand Slam singles title, winning the title on her third match point in the second set. With this victory Williams surpassed both Chris Evert and Martina Navratilova for second most Grand Slam singles titles won in the Open Era. The title was also her sixth Grand Slam singles title since turning 30 years of age, three more than the next closest to do so (Margaret Court, Martina Navratilova with three each). She is the only player in history to win all four Grand Slams at least once after having turned 30. The following weekend, Serena and sister Venus traveled to Buenos Aires, Argentina to face Argentina in a World Group II tie for Fed Cup. She played and won her only match against María Irigoyen to help Team USA to a 4–1 win over Argentina. Williams announced that she would be competing at the Indian Wells Masters ending her 14-year boycott of the event. Upon her return Williams received a standing ovation from the crowd and won her first match in straight sets. She reached the semifinals, where she was due to face world No. 3 Simona Halep for a place in the final, but was forced to withdraw because of a knee injury. By virtue of having defeated Sabine Lisicki in the quarterfinals of the Miami Open, Serena became only the eighth woman in the Open Era to record 700 match wins in her career. This also made her one of only three active players to have won 700 or more matches in singles, others being Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal. In the semifinals she won against Halep to advance to her tenth final at the event where she won a record eighth title and extended her winning streak to 21 by beating Carla Suárez Navarro.
As preparation for the clay court season (and to ensure her eligibility for the 2016 Summer Olympics), Williams travelled to Brindisi, Italy, to face Italy's team for a place in the Fed Cup's World Group. Williams lost the decisive doubles match alongside Alison Riske to Sara Errani and Flavia Pennetta, and as a result the United States team were relegated to World Group II. It was Williams' first loss in the Fed Cup. However, she maintained her perfect record in singles by defeating Camila Giorgi and Errani. The week of April 20 marked Serena's 114th consecutive week ranked world No. 1, the third-longest run in WTA history, behind Steffi Graf's 186 weeks and Martina Navratilova's 156. Williams suffered her first defeat of the season in the semifinals of the Mutua Madrid Open to world No. 4 Petra Kvitová. This loss ended a 27-match winning streak for Williams as well as a 50-match winning streak at Premier Mandatory events, and also a 19-match winning streak at the particular event. Williams played one match at the 2015 Internazionali BNL d'Italia before withdrawing from the tournament with an elbow injury. By virtue of having defeated Victoria Azarenka in the third round of the French Open, Williams became the first woman in the Open Era to win 50 matches at all four of the Grand Slams. Williams then defeated Sloane Stephens to reach her 40th Grand Slam singles quarterfinal. Serena won her next match easily, but had to come back from a set down in the semifinals versus Timea Bacsinszky for the fourth time in five matches to reach the final. She would go on to defeat Lucie Šafářová from the Czech Republic in three sets to win her 3rd French Open and 20th Grand Slam singles title. The win made her only the third person in history to win each Grand Slam at least three times, joining Margaret Court and Steffi Graf. She's the first player to win three straight Grand Slams since she did it herself during the Serena Slam. She also became the first player to win the Australian-French Open double since Jennifer Capriati in 2001.
Williams completed her second "Serena Slam" (winning all four Grand Slams in a row) by winning the 2015 Wimbledon Championships – her 6th Wimbledon and 21st Grand Slam singles title overall. Her path to victory at Wimbledon was particularly challenging. She was down a double break in the third round versus Heather Watson and two points from defeat twice before rallying for the win and becoming the first player to qualify for the WTA Finals (the earliest that a player had qualified since the event switched to the round-robin format in 2003). Williams then defeated three former number 1 players – Venus Williams, Victoria Azarenka and Maria Sharapova—in succession to advance to the final. Awaiting her there was 21-year-old Garbiñe Muguruza, who had previously handed Williams the worst Grand Slam tournament defeat of her career at the 2014 French Open. Williams defeated Muguruza in a tight two-setter. The victory made her the oldest woman in the Open Era to win a grand slam singles title, in addition to having the distinction of being the oldest ladies' singles champion of all of the grand slam tournaments. It also was her eighth consecutive victory in Grand Slam singles finals appearances, breaking Steffi Graf's Open Era record of seven from 1995 through 1999 and, on the men's side, tying Pete Sampras' Open Era record of eight from 1995 through 2000. Her 21st Grand Slam singles titles equaled the tally of the rest of the women's tour, combined. The week of July 13 marked the first time in WTA history that the No. 1 player had more than twice as many points as No. 2. Following her win at Wimbledon, Williams was awarded with her 7th ESPY for Best Female Tennis Player.
Williams played one match at the Swedish Open in Båstad before withdrawing with an elbow injury. She was the defending champion at the Bank of the West Classic but withdrew from the tournament in order for her elbow to get better. Williams had her 19 match winning streak ended by 18-year-old Swiss Belinda Bencic, the world No. 20, in three tight sets in the semifinals of the Canadian Open. It was her second defeat of the year and first on hard courts since the 2014 WTA Finals. The next week Williams defended her title at the Western & Southern Open with a straight sets victory over world No. 3 Simona Halep for her 69th WTA title, breaking a tie with Evonne Goolagong for standalone fifth-most WTA titles won. Williams' attempt at capturing the "Grand Slam" (winning all four Grand Slams in a calendar year) came to an end in the semifinals of the US Open, where she lost to Roberta Vinci in three sets. The loss has been described by some as one of the biggest upsets in tennis history. Nonetheless, Williams secured the year-end No. 1 ranking with her results at the tournament. On October 1, Williams called an end to her season, stating that she had been injured for most of the year and wanted to address her fitness issues. Prior to the announcement, coach Patrick Mouratoglou hinted that Williams might not play again in 2015 due to a lack of motivation and disappointment following her loss at the Open. On October 5, Williams surpassed Chris Evert for third-most weeks ranked world No. 1. Williams held the No. 1 ranking the entire season for the second consecutive year, finishing there for the fifth time in her career. She was voted WTA Player of the Year for the seventh time in her career. On December 14, Sports Illustrated announced Williams as their Sportsperson of the Year. She thus became the third solo woman, and first since 1983, to receive the award. Williams was also named ITF World Champion for the sixth time in her career. Soon after, it was announced that she was voted Female Athlete of the Year by the Associated Press for the fourth time.
Williams withdrew from the Hopman Cup after retiring from her singles match against Australia Gold with inflammation of her left knee. Her next tournament was the Australian Open, where she was the No. 1 seed and defending champion. She reached the final without dropping a set, including wins over No. 5 Maria Sharapova and No. 4 Agnieszka Radwańska, and faced first time Grand Slam finalist Angelique Kerber. She was considered the heavy favorite to win the title, as she had never lost an Australian Open final or semi-final. She also dominated the head-to-head against Kerber, having lost only once in six meetings and having not lost a set to her in four years. However, Serena lost the final in three sets and Kerber won her first Grand Slam title. This marked Williams' first ever loss in the final of the Australian Open, as well as her first three-set loss in the final of a Grand Slam. She had previously been 6–0 and 8–0 respectively.
The week of February 15 marked Serena's 157th consecutive week ranked world No. 1, passing Martina Navratilova's mark of 156 to have the second-longest run in WTA history behind Steffi Graf's 186.
She competed in Indian Wells as the No. 1 seed. She reached her first final here since winning in 2001 and before boycotting the event, by defeating Simona Halep in the quarter-finals and Agnieszka Radwańska in the semi-finals. She did not drop a set en route to the final. However, Serena was upset by No. 13 seed Victoria Azarenka, whom she had defeated the last five times the pair had met, in straight sets. This marked the first time since 2004 where Williams lost two consecutive finals.
She next played the Miami Open as the defending champion. She lost in the fourth round to Svetlana Kuznetsova. This marked her first loss here since 2012 and ended her 20 match winning streak in Miami. This was also her earliest exit here since 2000, where she lost in the same round.
During the clay court swing, Serena withdrew from Madrid but entered Rome. She beat Anna-Lena Friedsam and Christina McHale to progress to the quarter-finals where she defeated Svetlana Kuznetsova to avenge her loss in Miami. She then went on to beat Irina-Camelia Begu and Madison Keys to win her 70th career WTA title and to win her first title of the year. This was her third Rome title in four years and fourth overall.
At the French Open, Williams dropped only one set en route to the final. She defeated Yulia Putintseva in the quarter-finals despite being five points away from losing. She then beat surprise semi-finalist Kiki Bertens to reach her fourth French Open final where she faced Garbiñe Muguruza in a repeat of last year's Wimbledon final where Williams was victorious. However, the result was not the same as that Wimbledon final as Williams lost to Muguruza in straight sets. With this loss, Serena had lost two consecutive Grand Slam finals for the first time in her career. On top of failing to equal Steffi Graf's Open Era record of 22 Grand Slam singles titles, Williams also completed the Career Grand Slam runner-up set with this loss.
At 2016 Wimbledon, Williams only lost one set en route to the final where she faced Angelique Kerber in a rematch of their Australian Open final earlier in the year. This time, Serena defeated Kerber in straight sets to finally equal Steffi Graf's record of 22 Grand Slams in the Open Era. This was Serena's first Grand Slam title of the year, as well as her 71st career WTA title overall. In what was a brilliant serving performance, Serena only faced one break point in the whole match against Kerber which she saved with an ace. Later that day, Serena partnered with sister Venus Williams, to win their 6th Wimbledon doubles title and 14th doubles Grand Slam overall, keeping their perfect record at Grand Slam doubles finals intact.
On July 24, 2016, Williams withdrew from Rogers Cup citing a shoulder inflammation injury. She next participated in the Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, where she was the defending gold medalist in both singles and doubles and was the heavy favourite to retain those titles. Partnering with her sister Venus in the doubles, they faced a shocking exit in the first round itself, losing to the Czech duo of Lucie Šafářová and Barbora Strýcová, which ended their career record of 15–0 dating back to the 2000 Olympics. In singles, after defeating Daria Gavrilova and Alizé Cornet in the first two rounds, Williams faced Ukraine's Elina Svitolina in the third round in what was a rematch of this year's French Open 4th round, but lost to the Ukrainian, bringing an end to her Olympics campaign. Days after the Olympics, Williams took a late wildcard for the Western & Southern Open, where she was the defending champion, but then decided to withdraw due to concerns from the same shoulder injury/inflammation from earlier in the summer.
The week of September 5, 2016, marked Serena's 186th consecutive week ranked world No. 1, equalling Steffi Graf's record for longest run in WTA history. However, in the semifinals of the U.S. Open, Serena lost to Karolína Plíšková. Having won the US Open, Angelique Kerber became the world No. 1, ending Williams' No. 1 streak. Williams also pulled out of the WTA Finals due to a shoulder injury.
Serena started her 2017 season by participating in the WTA Auckland Open for the first time in her career. She defeated Pauline Parmentier to win her first match played since the US Open. In the second round however, Williams surprisingly lost to Madison Brengle. Williams displayed her top form from the outset of the Australian Open. Serena beat former and present top 10 players Belinda Bencic, Lucie Šafářová, Johanna Konta among others to reach her 8th Australian Open Final. On January 28, 2017, Williams won the Australian Open for an Open Era record seventh time, defeating her sister, Venus. This was her 23rd Grand Slam singles title, surpassing Steffi Graf's Open Era record of 22. It was the first time in the Open Era that two players aged 35 or older competed in the final of a Grand Slam tournament. The win ensured her return to the No. 1 ranking. Williams subsequently withdrew from the Indian Wells and Miami Opens, citing a knee injury. However, on April 19, 2017, she revealed that she was 20 weeks pregnant and would miss the remainder of the season. The timing means that she would have been roughly eight-weeks pregnant when she won the Australian Open. In interviews, she has maintained that she intends to return to tennis after her pregnancy, including setting the (in her own words) "outrageous plan" of competing in the 2018 Australian Open. On September 1, 2017, Williams gave birth to a baby daughter named Alexis Olympia Ohanian, Jr.
Williams has played older sister Venus in 28 professional matches since 1998. Overall, Serena is 17–11 against her sister. Serena has played Venus 15 times in Grand Slam singles and 13 times in other tournaments (including 11 finals). They have met in nine Grand Slam tournament finals, with Serena winning seven times. Beginning with the 2002 French Open, they played each other in four consecutive Grand Slam finals, which was the first time in the open era that the same two players had contested consecutive finals in Grand Slam singles.
Williams leads series 7–6. One of Williams' first rivalries was with Martina Hingis, who turned pro less than one year before her (Hingis in October 1994, Williams in 1995) They first played each other at the 1998 Miami Open where Hingis won in three sets. All but one of their matches was played on a hard court with the exception being a contest on clay in Rome 1999, which Hingis won in straight sets. Their last match took place at the 2002 Miami Open with Williams winning for the loss of just four games. Hingis was forced to briefly leave the sport citing ankle injuries.
Williams leads series 10–7. Once considered one of the best rivalries in women's tennis, the competition between Williams and Capriati was stiff with 12 out of their 17 meetings going to three sets. The rivalry, starting in 1999, started off one sided with Capriati winning four of their first five matches. Serena would then go on to win the next eight. Williams and Capriati played with similar styles, both known for using their power and athleticism to gain quick advantages in points.
Williams leads series 8–6. Henin and Williams met 14 times, five of which were in tournament finals. In grand slams they have faced each other seven times with Justine leading 4–3. Opposite personalities and styles of play are often cited as what made their rivalry entertaining. In the semifinals of the 2003 French Open, when at 4–2, 30–0 on Williams' serve in the third set, Henin raised her hand to indicate she was not ready to receive; Williams then put her serve into the net. The umpire did not see Henin raise her hand, and thus did not allow Williams a first serve. Williams lost the game and would go on to lose the match. Their last match took place in the final of the 2010 Australian Open where Williams won in three sets, earning her 12th Grand Slam title.
When both the Williams sisters entered the top ten and started meeting in tournaments, unsubstantiated rumors of match fixing started to circulate. John McEnroe, while commenting on the 2000 Wimbledon semifinal between the two sisters, said that "Serena may not be allowed to win. Richard may have something to say about this." Elena Dementieva, a fellow professional player, said during a post match interview after losing to Venus at the Indian Wells quarterfinals in 2001, that Richard Williams decided the results between the two sisters. Venus pulling out at the last minute garnered much speculation in the press, with fans demanding their money back.
After injuring herself in the quarterfinal match against Dementieva, Venus Williams defaulted to Serena in the semifinals. Although Venus told the tournament official hours beforehand that she would have to default, the official word was not given until 10 minutes before the scheduled start (in the hopes that Venus would change her mind), angering fans who had come to see the match. Consequently, during the final against Kim Clijsters two days later, the spectators jeered Serena from when she first took the court for warm-up through the final trophy presentation including cheering double faults and errors with no intervention from the tournament officials. Despite these attacks, Serena went on to win the tournament.
At the Ericsson Open the following week, Richard Williams said racist comments were made to him in the stands, and the tournament director refused to offer Serena an apology for how she was treated. As a result, neither sister played the tournament even though it had become a mandatory stop on the WTA tour since 2009. In 2015, Serena decided to end her 14-year boycott and played.
In her 2004 U.S. Open quarterfinal match against Jennifer Capriati, an overrule was made by chair umpire Mariana Alves in Capriati's favor, even though later video review showed this to be an error (as Williams' shot was inside the court). There were calls that incorrectly went against Williams during the match, including late in the third set which prevented her from rallying from a break down. Williams attempted to argue a couple of calls, but was not successful. Capriati won the match, but tournament officials dismissed Alves from the tournament, and she was suspended. The controversy renewed calls for the adoption of technology like the MacCAM and Hawk-Eye systems.
In a 2009 U.S. Open semifinal round against Kim Clijsters, Williams slammed her racquet on the court after losing the first set. She was given a warning, with a potential second violation carrying a one-point penalty. While trailing 4–6, 5–6, 15–30, Williams' second serve was called a foot fault, resulting in two match points for Clijsters. Williams gestured with her racquet to the lineswoman who had made the call and yelled at her, with profanities and a threat to shove a tennis ball down the lineswoman's throat. During the subsequent on-court conference between the chair umpire, the lineswoman, US Open officials, and Williams, a television microphone picked up Williams saying to the lineswoman, "I didn't say I would kill you! Are you serious?" The incident resulted in Williams being penalized a point for unsportsmanlike conduct—necessitated by the earlier warning for racquet abuse—meaning Clijsters won the match 6–4, 7–5. The following day, Williams was issued the maximum permissible on-site fine of $10,000 (plus $500 for racquet abuse). After further investigation, the Grand Slam Committee in November 2009 fined her $175,000 in lieu of suspending her from the 2010 US Open or other Grand Slam events. They also placed her on a two-year probation, so if Williams committed another offense in the following two years at a Grand Slam tournament, she would be suspended from participating in the following US Open. If she committed no offenses in the next two years, her fine would be reduced to $82,500. Williams initially refused to apologize for her outburst, both in her post-match press conference and in an official statement released the following day. She eventually apologized stating "I just really wanted to apologize sincerely, because I'm a very prideful person and I'm a very intense person and a very emotional person", and "I wanted to offer my sincere apologies to anyone that I may have offended." She said she had been humbled by the experience.
In the final of the 2011 U.S. Open against Samantha Stosur, Williams shouted "Come on!" as the Australian attempted to return a forehand Williams believed to be a winner. The chair umpire Eva Asderaki awarded the point to Stosur based on the USTA's deliberate hindrance rule, which states, "If a player commits any act which hinders his opponent in making a stroke, then, if this is deliberate, he shall lose the point or if involuntary, the point shall be replayed." As the point was 30–40 on Williams' serve, the penalty gave the break of serve to Stosur. Williams became angry with the chair umpire and made several gestures and unflattering comments toward her during the next changeover, including telling Asderaki that if she ever saw the umpire coming toward her, she should "look the other way". Williams initially gained momentum in the set following the penalty, breaking back in the next game, but eventually flagged and lost the match, 2–6, 3–6. At the end of the match, she declined to offer the customary handshake to Asderaki. Williams mentioned the incident in her post-match speech as the tournament runner-up, claiming, "I hit a winner, but I guess it didn't count," but added, "It wouldn't have mattered in the end. Sam played really well." A writer for ESPN suggested that Williams could avoid being found to have violated the terms of the "probation" on which she was placed following her 2009 outburst, as she did not appear to have used profanity in addressing Asderaki during the match. In the end, Williams was fined $2,000 and was not barred from competing in the 2012 US Open because "...Williams' conduct, while verbally abusive, [did] not rise to the level of a major offence under the Grand Slam code of conduct."
Williams announced her engagement to Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian on December 29, 2016. On April 19, 2017, Williams posted a sideways picture of herself on Snapchat focused on her belly. It had the caption "20 weeks", sparking speculation that Williams was pregnant. Later that evening, her spokesperson confirmed that the couple was expecting. The fact that she was 20 weeks pregnant when announcing her pregnancy meant that she was 8 weeks pregnant when she won the Australian Open in January. On September 1, 2017, Williams gave birth to a baby girl named Alexis Olympia Ohanian, Jr. She plans to move to San Francisco with Ohanian after the wedding.
Williams was raised a Jehovah's Witness, but says she has "never really practiced it." She often gives thanks to Jehovah after winning matches.
In the early 2000s, Williams wore Puma apparel and footwear on court. She used the Wilson Hammer 6.4 Stretch Power Holes racquet. Today, she is endorsed by Nike and uses the Wilson Blade 104.
Williams also has endorsement deals with Gatorade, Delta Air Lines, Audemars Piguet, Aston Martin, Pepsi, Beats by Dre headphones, Mission Athletecare, Berlei bras, OPI Products, OnePiece, IBM, Mini and Chase Bank.
Williams is the current CSO (Chief Sporting Officer) for British luxury automobile manufacturer Aston Martin. She accepted the contract in June 2015. Williams then posted her first experience on social media service Twitter, and said: "I'm loving my first day on the job as Chief Sporting Officer and Director of Fun!", stating her optimism on the job as the CSO.
Williams has been noted for her unusual and colorful outfits on court. In 2002, there was much talk when she wore a black lycra catsuit at the US Open. At the 2004 US Open, Williams wore denim skirts and knee-high boots—tournament officials, however, did not allow her to wear the boots during matches. At Wimbledon in 2008, the white trench coat she wore during warm-up for her opening match was the subject of much discussion since it was worn despite the sunny weather.
Williams formerly had a special line with Puma. In April 2004, she signed a deal worth US$40 million for a line with Nike. Since 2004, she has also run her own line of designer apparel, "Aneres"—her first name spelled backward. In 2009, she launched a signature collection of handbags and jewelry. The collection, Signature Statement, is sold mainly on the Home Shopping Network (HSN).
In early 2010, Williams became a certified nail technician in preparation for her upcoming nail collection with a company called HairTech. In 2015, she became the first black female athlete to have a picture by herself on the cover of Vogue, which she did for the April 2015 issue. In 2015, she also presented her HSN Signature Statement collection for the second time at the New York Fashion Week Show—a clothing line exclusively made for the retailer HSN.
Williams has appeared on television and also provided voice work on animated shows: in a 2001 episode of The Simpsons Serena joined the animation along with sister Venus, Pete Sampras and Andre Agassi. She has also provided guest voice work in a 2005 episode of Playhouse Disney's animated kids show Higglytown Heroes and a 2007 episode of the Nickelodeon cartoon Avatar: The Last Airbender, which she has described as her "favorite show".
Williams has posed for the 2003 and 2004 editions of the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue. In April 2005, MTV announced plans to broadcast a reality show around the lives of Serena and Venus, which was eventually aired on ABC Family. Williams has appeared twice on MTV's Punk'd and in 2007, appeared in the ABC reality television series Fast Cars and Superstars: The Gillette Young Guns Celebrity Race. In 2002, she played Miss Wiggins in the season 3 episode "Crouching Mother, Hidden Father" of My Wife and Kids; she has also guest-starred in episodes of The Bernie Mac Show, ER and Law & Order: Special Victims Unit. In 2007, Williams appeared in the music video of "I Want You" by the American rapper Common, alongside performers Alicia Keys and Kanye West.
In late 2009, Williams became the first active female professional athlete to appear in a feminine hygiene product advertising campaign. A series of online videos and print advertisements for Tampax Pearl tampons showed her hitting balls at Mother Nature, played by Catherine Lloyd Burns, to prevent Mother Nature giving her a red-wrapped gift, representing her menstrual period. In the online videos, the two have dueling press conferences over the "bad blood" between them. "A lot of celebrities are not open to working with our brand, and we're thrilled that Serena is", said a brand manager for Tampax at Procter & Gamble.
In July 2012, she appeared in the ABC comedic improv television series Trust Us with Your Life and as a lawyer on the Lifetime television series Drop Dead Diva.
To celebrate the 35th anniversary of Pac-Man, Williams made a cameo appearance in the movie Pixels, which starred Adam Sandler and Kevin James, and premiered on July 24, 2015.
Williams is well known to be close with Beyoncé. She made a cameo appearance dancing in Beyoncé's music video for the song Sorry, from the hit album Lemonade. Williams said she was told by the director, "We would love for you to be in this particular song. It's about strength and it's about courage and that's what we see you as."
In addition to English as her native language, Williams also speaks conversational French, and knows some Spanish and Italian. At the 2013, 2015, and 2016 French Open she gave her on-court interviews in French, much to the crowd's delight.
In August 2009, Williams and her sister Venus became minority owners of the Miami Dolphins after purchasing a small stake in the team. They live near each other in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida, which is about an hour's drive from the Dolphins' stadium. They are the first African-American women to hold any amount of ownership in an NFL franchise.
In 2008, as part of the Serena Williams Foundation's work, Williams helped to fund the construction of the Serena Williams Secondary School in Matooni, Kenya. The Serena Williams Foundation also provides university scholarships for underprivileged students in the United States. In 2016, the Serena Williams Fund partnered with Helping Hands Jamaica to build the Salt Marsh Primary School for Jamaican youth in Trelawny Parish. She received a Celebrity Role Model Award from Avon Foundation in 2003 for work in breast cancer. Williams has also been involved in a number of clinics at schools and community centers, particularly those which have programs focusing on at-risk youth. She has also won the "Young Heroes Award" from Big Brothers Big Sisters of Greater L.A. and Inland (2003) and the "Family Circle and Prudential Financial Player Who Makes a Difference Award" (2004). In response to the 2010 Haiti earthquake, Williams, along with other ATP and WTA stars, decided to forgo their final day of preparation for the 2010 Australian Open to form a charity event in which all proceeds will go to the Haiti earthquake victims. Serena, along with her sister Venus, is a supporter and contributor of First Serve Miami, a foundation for youth who want to learn tennis but are socially and economically challenged. She has been an International Goodwill Ambassador with UNICEF since 2011 and has helped launch UNICEF's Schools for Asia campaign.
In addition to the Serena Williams Fund in 2016, Serena and Venus collaborated on the Williams Sisters Fund to work on philanthropic projects together. Also in 2016, in their childhood home of Compton, California Serena and Venus teamed up to found the Yetunde Price Resource Center, in honor of their late sister. The Resource Center provides services to families affected by community violence.
Williams' return to Indian Wells in 2015 was done in partnership with the Equal Justice Initiative, a non-profit organization that provides legal representation to those who might have been denied a fair trial. EJI executive director Bryan Stevenson lauded her courage in supporting his organization. "It's so rare when athletes at the top of their game are willing to embrace a set of issues that, for a lot of people, are edgier", he said. "This is not aid to orphans ... She was standing when a lot of her contemporaries remain seated, speaking up when others are being quiet."
In 2014, Williams began hosting an annual charity run named "The Serena Williams Ultimate Fun Run". The event is in support of the Serena Williams Fund, which helps underprivileged individuals and communities that are affected by senseless violence and to ensure equal access to education of youth.
In 2017, Williams became Ambassador for the Allstate Foundation's Purple Purse project, an initiative to provide financial empowerment to domestic abuse victims. In a press release, Vicky Dinges, Allstate's senior vice president of corporate responsibility, said, "we are thrilled to welcome Serena, a longtime advocate and role model for so many, to the Purple Purse family. Her voice will bring new audiences into this critical conversation.”
Other charitable organizations Williams supports include the Elton John AIDS Foundation, Great Ormond Street Hospital, Hearts of Gold, the Common Ground Foundation, the Small Steps Project, the HollyRod Foundation, Beyond the Boroughs National Scholarship Fund, World Education, the Eva Longoria Foundation, the Caliber Foundation and the Cure for MND Foundation.
The Williams sisters, with author Hilary Beard, wrote a book titled Venus & Serena: Serving From The Hip: 10 Rules For Living, Loving and Winning, which was published in 2005. During the 2009 Wimbledon Championships, Williams said that she is in the process of writing a TV show storyline, which will be converted into script form by her agency. She stated that the show will represent subject matter from a mix of popular American television shows such as Desperate Housewives, and Family Guy. Williams released her first solo autobiography entitled On the Line, following the 2009 US Open.Records in bold indicate peer-less achievements.Records in italics are currently active streaks.Morgan, Terri (2001). Venus and Serena Williams: Grand Slam Sisters. Sports Achievers Biographies. Lerner Publishing. 64pp. ISBN 978-0-8225-3684-0. Williams, Venus; Williams, Serena; Beard, Hilary (2005). Venus and Serena: Serving from the Hip: 10 Rules For Living, Loving and Winning. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. 133pp. ISBN 978-0-618-57653-1. Williams, Serena; Paisner, Daniel (2009a). On the Line. Hachette Digital. 214pp. ISBN 978-0-446-56402-1. Williams, Serena; Paisner, Daniel (2009b). My Life: Queen of the Court. Simon & Schuster. 257pp. ISBN 978-1-84737-544-5.