American tennis player Serena Jameka Williams was born on September 26, 1981, in Saginaw, Michigan. The youngest of Richard and Oracene Williams's (now divorced) five daughters, Serena Williams, along with her sister Venus, would grow up to become one of the sport's great champions with her sister Venus—revolutionized women’s tennis with her powerful style of play, becoming one of the game’s most dominant athletes in the early 21st century.
Their father, Richard Williams, has coached and, some say, harangued the girls since childhood - or even earlier. He says he was watching tennis on TV in 1978, and when he saw how much prize money could be won, he decided on the spot that tennis winnings could be his family's path to success. He started talking his wife - already the mother of three girls from a previous marriage - into having more children.
One of their father's favored training techniques involved putting the girls against a wall, then blasting hundreds of tennis balls at them, rapid fire, to teach them to "defend" themselves with their rackets. Venus and Serena trained at tennis courts in rough Compton, California, and their father has said that gang members "watched over the girls", not as predators but as protectors, as they played and practiced.
The sisters’ early training took place on public tennis courts in and around Compton, where they remember having to duck gunfire. Despite this difficult beginning, though, their skills developed rapidly. Serena entered her first tournament at the age of four and a half, and over the next five years, her father has claimed, she won 46 of 49 tournaments she entered. She succeeded Venus as the number-one player in southern California’s highly competitive age-12-and-under rankings, and well before reaching adolescence both sisters had attracted national attention in the form of invitations to prestigious tennis camps, promises of lucrative product-endorsement deals, and glowing newspaper reportage.
In 1991 Richard Williams, who managed and coached both Serena and Venus, made the first of several unorthodox moves in regard to his daughters’ career: he decided that they should enter no more tournaments on the national junior circuit. Junior tournaments are the usual path to stardom for young tennis players, so Serena’s development as a player took place to some degree in isolation from her peers. Richard Williams has said that he hoped to avoid subjecting his daughters to competitive pressures, including an undertone of racial hostility. Serena and Venus were sent to the Florida tennis academy of teaching pro Ric Macci, who had also worked with teenage standouts Jennifer Capriati and Mary Pierce.
In 1993 both girls left school and continued their education at home.
Serena turned professional in 1995, at age 14. By 1997, she was ranked #304 in the world when she defeated two Top 10 players and jumped to #102. She cracked the top 100 in 1998, after defeating #2 Lindsay Davenport in Sydney, and won her first career title at the Open Gaz de France in 1999. A 2003 victory over her sister Venus gave Serena her fourth Grand Slam title in five attempts, but then she injured her knee in the finals at Wimbledon, and was sidelined for eight months. She is the first black woman to win a Grand Slam event since Althea Gibson, in 1958.
Williams made her professional debut in October of 1995 at the non-WTA Bell Challenge in Vanier, Quebec, Canada, losing in less than an hour to a virtual unknown.
Richard Williams once again stirred talk in the tennis world by allowing them to turn professional at the age of 14. Still banned from World Tennis Association (WTA) events at that age, Williams made her professional debut in October of 1995 at the non-WTA Bell Challenge in Vanier, Quebec, Canada, losing in less than an hour to a virtual unknown. But her father, who has defenders as well as critics on the tennis circuit, offered constant encouragement, and the play of both sisters improved dramatically. “Nobody knows those girls better than their parents—the road they’ve gone on couldn’t have been better selected,” legendary coach Nick Bollettieri told Newsweek. Williams took 1996 off, playing in neither WTA nor non-WTA events. Her father felt that she needed more training to develop and he was also working on Venus’s professional career as well.
Williams’ first professional match in the WTA was in Moscow in 1997 where she was taken out in the first round by a highly ranked player. Many critics claimed that she did not have the talent of her older sister, who was slowly climbing the ranks of the WTA, but that perception was soon to change. Williams qualified for an Ameritech-sponsored tournament in Chicago where she was slated to face Mary Pierce, who was ranked number seven in the world, in the second round. She staged a stunning upset over Pierce, beating her in only two sets. This advanced her to the quarter finals where she faced an even more difficult opponent, fourth-ranked Monica Seles. At first it seemed that Williams had given her all in the match against Pierce as she dropped the first set to Seles. Then, in a shocking turn of events, Williams rallied and won the next two sets, defeating Seles. The critics who had said that she showed little promise only a few weeks before now spoke of her as the next rising WTA star, which was reflected in her ranking, which jumped from 304 to 102 after the tournament. She would finish 1997, her first full season with the WTA, with a ranking of 99.
1998 continued to be an excellent year for Williams as she continued to succeed beyond expectations. She began to play in doubles play and won two other doubles titles that year with Venus in Oklahoma City and Zurich. Her victory in Oklahoma City became Williams’ first pro title in doubles, but it would not be her last. She also went on to win two mixed double titles at Wimbledon and the U.S. Open with partner Max Mirnyi.
1999 was a watershed year for Williams as it would be the one in which she won her first singles title as well as a Grand Slam tournament. Ranked number 21 at the beginning of the season, her first single title came at the Paris Indoor tournament where she defeated Amelie Mauresmo in three sets. From there she went on to win Indian Wells where she plowed through Lindsey Davenport, Mary Pierce, and number seven ranked Steffi Graf to gain her victory. Williams was on a 16-match win streak when she met up with Venus again in the finals of a tournament in Miami, defeating Seles, Coetzer and number one ranked Martina Hingis in straight sets. While she did lose to her sister again, Williams did crack the top ten of the rankings for the first time, becoming the ninth best player in the world.
It set the stage for a run of high-powered, high-profile victories for both Williams sisters. With their signature style and play, Venus and Serena changed the look of their sport as well. Their sheer power and athletic ability overwhelmed opponents, and their sense of style and presence made them standout celebrities on the court.
In 2002, Serena won the French Open, the U.S. Open, and Wimbledon, defeating Venus in the finals of each tournament. She captured her first Australian Open in 2003, making her one of only six women in the Open era to complete a career Grand Slam. The win also fulfilled her desire to hold all four major titles simultaneously to comprise what she'd dubbed "The Serena Slam." In 2008, she won the U.S. Open and teamed with Venus to capture a second women's doubles Olympic gold medal at the Beijing Games.
But Serena also had her scrapes and losses. She underwent knee surgery in August 2003, and in September her half-sister Yetunde Price was murdered in Los Angeles, California. Three years later, Serena seemed burned out. Bitten by injuries, and just a general lack of motivation to stay fit or compete at the same level she once had, Serena saw her tennis ranking slump to 139.
Serena credited her faith as a Jehovah's Witness, as well as a life-changing journey she made to West Africa for renewing her pride and competitive fire. By 2009, Williams had released a new autobiography, Queen of the Court, and won her place back atop the world's rankings, winning both the 2009 Australian Open singles (for the fourth time) and Wimbledon 2009 singles (for the third time). She also won the doubles matches at both the Australian Open and Wimbledon that year.
But not everything went smoothly. Williams made headlines in September of that year, when she blasted a lineswomen for a foot-fault called near the end of a semifinal loss to eventual champion Kim Clijsters at the U.S. Open. The profanity-laced outburst included finger pointing and, according to the lineswoman, an alleged threat from Serena against her life.
Williams downplayed what happened, refuting the allegation that she'd threatened the woman. But the incident did not go over well with the tennis viewing public, nor the U.S. Tennis Association, which fined her $10,000 on the spot. Two months later, she was placed on two-year probation and ordered to pay another $82,500 to the Grand Slam committee for the episode, the largest punishment ever levied against a tennis player.
By early 2010, however, Serena was doing her best to move past the incident. Sure enough, that year she won the Australian Open singles and doubles matches, as well as her fourth Wimbledon singles championship.
In 2011, Williams suffered a series of health scares, after doctors found a blood clot in one of her lungs, which kept her away from tennis for several months. Following several procedures, including one to remove a hematoma, speculation rose as to whether Williams would retire from the sport. Her health had improved by September 2011, however, and Williams looked like her old dominant self at the U.S. Open before falling to Samantha Stosur in the finals.
Williams stumbled badly at the 2012 French Open, enduring a first-round loss for the first time at a major tournament. But she was back in top form in London that summer, defeating 23-year-old Agnieszka Radwanska in an emotional three sets to claim her fifth Wimbledon singles title and first major championship in two years. Following the win, Williams rushed to her family in the stands, with tears in her eyes, and hugged them for several seconds. In a post-Wimbledon interview with ESPN, she was asked whether she thought she could top the win, and answered: "Are you kidding? The  U.S. Open, the Australian Open, the French Open, Wimbledon 2013."
At the 2012 Summer Olympic Games, Serena beat Maria Sharapova to take her first gold medal in women's singles. The next day, she claimed her fourth overall Olympic gold medal by teaming with sister Venus to defeat Czech Republic stars Andrea Hlavackova and Lucie Hradecka in women's doubles.
Williams continued her winning streak to her next Grand Slam event. In September 2012, she beat out rival Victoria Azarenka to take the singles title at the U.S. Open. According to USA Today, Williams wasn't sure that she'd emerge victorious. "I honestly can't believe I won. I was really reparing my runner-up speech, because I thought, 'Man, she's playing so great.'"
By this time, Williams had captured 15 Grand Slam singles titles and 13 Grand Slam doubles titles. "I would like to leave a mark," Williams once said about her standing in the tennis world. "I think obviously I will, due to the fact that I'm doing something different in tennis. But I don't think I could ever reach something like a Martina Navratilova—I don't think I'd ever play that long—but who knows? I think I'll leave a mark regardless."
In June 2013, Williams took her second French Open title—as well as her 16th Grand Slam singles title—in a 6-4, 6-4 victory over defending champion Sharapova. "I'm still a little bit upset about that loss last year," Williams said in an interview with ESPN following the match. "But it's all about, for me, how you recover. I think I've always said a champion isn't about how much they win, but it's about how they recover from their downs, whether it's an injury or whether it's a loss."
Nearly one month later, Williams competed at Wimbledon, where she suffered a shocking loss (6-2, 1-6, 6-4) in the fourth round to Germany's Sabine Lisicki, the No. 23 seed. Her career-best 34-match winning streak over, Williams told Sports Illustrated, "I don't think it's a huge shock. [Lisicki] is a great player. Her ranking has no effect on what she should be. She should be ranked higher. She just has a super, super game to play well on grass."
At the U.S. Open, Williams made a strong showing. She knocked out her younger rival Sloane Stephens in the fourth round before upending Azarenka to clinch the U.S. Open title. It was the second year in a row that the pair had faced off in the finals.
She is currently ranked the Women's Tennis Association (WTA) number one in the world.
In singles tennis Serena Williams has well over fifty career titles including 5 Wimbledon Championships, 2 French Opens, 4 US Opens, 5 Australian Opens, 3 WTA championships, and the 2012 Gold medal.
In doubles tennis Serena has 13 career titles including 5 at Wimbledon, 2 US Opens, 2 French Opens, 4 Australian Opens, and 2 Olympic Gold medals.
She won her first major championship in 1999 and completed the career Grand Slam in 2003. Along with her individual success, Williams teamed with sister Venus to win a series of doubles titles. Her victory at the 2015 French Open gave her 20 Grand Slam singles titles, the third-highest total in history.
She, Martina Navratilova, Steffi Graf, Margaret Court, and Maureen Connolly are the only women in tennis history to hold all four Slam singles titles at the same time (2002).
One of Time Magazine's 100 Most Influential People in the World. [April 2014].
Denomination: Jehovah's Witness
"When I was a little girl, in California, my father and my mother wanted me to play tennis," she told the crowd in French after her victory. "And now I'm here, with 20 Grand Slam titles."
"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."
"I've always said that I'm insatiable."
"I could lose 20 pounds and I'm still going to have these knockers and I'm going to have this ass, and that's just the way it is."
"You never fail if you try. You only fail if you don't try. Go out there and try whatever you are dreaming of!"
"For all their practice, preparation and confidence, even the best competitors in every sport have a voice of doubt inside them that says they are not good enough. I am lucky that whatever fear I have inside me, my desire to win is always stronger."
"[observation, 2015, on addressing a bad on-court experience she had suffered many years before] I'm fortunate to be at a point in my career where I have nothing to prove. I'm still as driven as ever, but the ride is a little easier. I play for the love of the game. And it is with that love in mind, and a new understanding of the true meaning of forgiveness that I will proudly return to Indian Wells in 2015."
5ft 9in or 175 cm tall
Her scenes of her first movie Black Knight (2001) were cut.
Among her pets was a Yorkshire terrier by the name of Petey (named after one of her tennis heroes, Pete Sampras), Jackie the Jack Russell Terrier; and Bambi the pitbull.
Younger sister of Venus Williams.
She is a certified Fashion Designer and has her own clothing line called "Aneres" which is her name spelled backwards.
In 2007, Forbes Magazine estimated her earnings for the year at $14 million.
Appeared in an infomercial, hosted by Anthony Robbins and Tom Selleck, for "The Tony Robbins Ultimate Edge" system.
Release of the book, "Venus and Serena Williams: Athletes" by Anne M. Todd.
Appeared in an infomercial, hosted by Vanessa Williams, for "Proactiv Solution" acne medication.
Release of her book, "On the Line" by Serena with Daniel Paisiner.
Release of her book, "How to Play Tennis: Learn How to Play Tennis with the Williams Sisters" by Serena and Venus Williams.
One of Time Magazine's 100 Most Influential People in the World. [April 2014].
Seeking to provide educational opportunities for underprivileged youth around the world, the tennis star formed the Serena Williams Foundation and built schools in Africa.
In 2009, Serena and Venus purchased shares of the Miami Dolphins to become the first African-American women to own part of an NFL team.
Williams was once known for her unusual and colorful outfits on court. In 2002, there was much talk when she wore a Lane Bryant black lycra catsuit at the US Open.
In early 2010, Williams became a certified nail technician in preparation for her upcoming nail collection with a company called HairTech.
In 2011, Serena underwent an emergency treatment for a hematoma related to a pulmonary embolism, a blood clot in her lungs.
That same year, she was appointed as a UNICEF international goodwill ambassador.
Her favorite color is purple.
She is currently ranked the Women's Tennis Association (WTA) number one in the world.
Quotes from others about the person
After the Williams sisters (Venus and Serena) had complained of discrimination against them, Hingis told Time magazine in 2001: "Being black only helps them. Many times they get sponsors because they are black. And they have had a lot of advantages because they can always say, 'It's racism.' They can always come back and say, 'Because we are this colour, things happen."
At the peak of the Williams sisters and Hingis' competitive and fierce rivalry, Hingis stated in a press conference during the 1999 U.S. Open referring to the sisters' remarks, "They always have big mouths. They always talk a lot. It's happened before, so it's gonna happen again. I don't really worry about that."
father: Richard Williams - ran a private security firm
mother: Oracene "Brandy" Price - nurse
Sister: Venus Williams - tennis player.
In singles tennis Venus Williams has over forty career titles including 5 Wimbledon Championships, 2 US Opens, an Olympic Gold Medal, and a WTA championship.
In doubles tennis Venus has twenty career titles including 5 at Wimbledon, 2 US Opens, 2 French Opens, 4 Australian Opens, and 2 Olympic Gold medals.
Step-sister: Yetunde Price
Step-sister: Lyndrea Price - United States
ExBoyfriend: Brett Ratner
ExBoyfriend: Lonnie Rashid Lynn - rapper