Serena Williams admitted on Tuesday that she will soon be retiring from her professional tennis career. She will turn 41 next month, shortly after the end of the US Open in New York.
Williams has won 23 Grand Slam singles titles as well as 14 major doubles championships, all with her older sister, Venus, as well as four Olympic gold medals, dozens of other trophies and millions of dollars.
A look back at some key moments in his career:
Williams’ first tour-level match was on October 28, 1995, about a month after his 14th birthday. It was in the first round of qualifying for an event in Quebec, Canada, and Williams lost 6-1, 6-1 to Annie Miller, who was 18 and ranked 149th at the time.
DEBUTS IN GRAND CHEMEAU
Williams won the first Grand Slam match of her career, aged 16 at the 1998 Australian Open, beating sixth seed Irina Spirlea 6-7(5), 6-3, 6-1. Williams then lost in the second round to – guess who? — his older sister, Venus.
GRAND SLAM TITLE NO. 1
Williams won her first Grand Slam title at age 17 beating Martina Hingis 6-3, 7-6(4) in the US Open final on September 11, 1999, becoming the first black woman to win a championship tennis major since Althea Gibson. in 1958. The following day, Serena and Venus beat Chanda Rubin and Sandrine Testud 4-6, 6-1, 6-4 in the doubles final for the first of their 14 Grand Slam trophies in women’s doubles duet.
The US Open women’s final moved to prime time in 2001, a move widely credited with the Williams sisters’ rise in the sport; Nearly 23 million viewers watched as Venus beat Serena to the championship, the biggest TV audience of any program that night, including a college football game between Notre Dame and Nebraska.
BIG CAMEL 2
Serena defeated Venus 7-5, 6-3 in the 2002 French Open final, the first time in 11 Grand Slam matches between two professional-era sisters that the younger won.
GRAND CHEMELE 3
Serena Williams beat her sister again in a family final at a major tournament, winning 7-6(4), 6-3 over two-time defending champion Venus at Wimbledon in 2002. “My dad always said that one day we would play the Wimbledon final, the US Open final, just the big ones,” Serena said that day. “And there we were, 10, 15 years later.”
START AT NO. 1 IN THE RANKING
Serena Williams first appeared at No. 1 in the WTA rankings on July 8, 2002, two days after winning Wimbledon. She would spend 319 weeks there – the third of all – including a spell of 187 consecutive weeks, tied with Steffi Graf for the most in a row.
GRAND CHEMELE 4
A third consecutive All-Williams major final produced a third straight title for Serena, this time via a 6-4, 6-3 win over Venus in the 2002 US Open final.
GRAND CHEMELE 5
Concluding a so-called “Serena Slam” – four Major titles in a row – Serena once again beat Venus in the 2003 Australian Open final. The score was 7-6(4), 3- 6, 6-4. This made Serena the fifth woman to hold all four Grand Slam titles at once, adding to the titles she won in 2002 at the French Open, Wimbledon and US Open.
GRAND CHEMELE 6
Serena successfully defended her Wimbledon title in 2003, beating her sister 4-6, 6-4, 6-2; Venus was hampered by a tight abdominal muscle.
GRAND CHEMELE 7
After missing time due to left knee surgery, Williams came back to beat Lindsay Davenport 2-6, 6-3, 6-0 in the 2005 Australian Open final.
GRAND CHEMELE 8
Coming back after being sidelined for a stretch with her knee, Williams defeated Maria Sharapova 6-1, 6-2 in the 2007 Australian Open final. Williams was seeded only 81st after missing much of the previous season and becoming only the second unranked woman in the professional era to win the Australian Open.
BIG CAMEL 9
Williams won her third US Open title by defeating Jelena Jankovic 6-4, 7-5 in the 2008 final.
GRAND CHEMELE 10
A 6-0, 6-3 defeat by Dinara Safina gave Williams her fourth Australian Open trophy in 2009.
GRAND CHEMELE 11
Serena beat Venus 7-6(3), 6-2 in the 2009 singles final at the All England Club for her third Wimbledon title – each title match against her sister – then they returned to the court and teamed up to win the doubles trophy too.
GRAND CHEMELE 12
A 6-4, 3-6, 6-2 win over Justine Henin in the 2010 final gave Williams her fifth Australian Open championship.
GRAND CHEMELE 13
Williams beat Vera Zvonareva 6-3, 6-2 in the 2010 Wimbledon final for her fourth All England Club title.
Williams’ career has seen its share of injury hiatuses; One of her toughest moments came days after her 13th Grand Slam title, when she cut her feet on broken glass while leaving a restaurant in Germany. She eventually needed two operations on her right foot and spent 10 weeks in a cast, then 10 weeks in a walking boot. Then she had blood clots in her lungs and a pool of blood under the skin of her stomach.
EXIT OF THE FIRST ROUND
Williams’ first career Grand Slam defeat in the first round came against Virginie Razzano at the 2012 French Open. Soon after, Williams began working with coach Patrick Mouratoglou; that partnership ended this year after about a decade and 10 major titles together.
GRAND CHEMELE 14
Williams ended a two-year Grand Slam drought at Wimbledon in 2012 with a 6-1, 5-7, 6-2 win over Agnieszka Radwanska in the final.
GRAND CHEMELE 15
Two points from loss, Williams turned the tide and won the last four matches to edge Victoria Azarenka 6-2, 2-6, 7-5 for the 2012 US Open title, her fourth at Flushing Meadows. It was the first three-set women’s final at the US Open since 1995.
GRAND CHEMELE 16
A year after her premature exit from Roland Garros, and more than a decade after her first title there, Williams won the 2013 French Open beating defending champion Sharapova 6-4, 6-4 in the final.
GRAND CHEMELE 17
Williams defeated Azarenka again in a three-set final in New York, 7-5, 6-7(6), 6-1, to claim a fifth US Open title in 2013.
GRAND CHEMELE 18
Never losing more than three matches in a set, including a 6-3, 6-3 win over Caroline Wozniacki in the final, Williams tied Chris Evert and Martina Navratilova with 18 major championships by winning the 2014 US Open. a third straight title at Flushing Meadows and sixth overall.
GRAND CHEMELE 19
Williams beat Sharapova 6-3, 7-6(5) in the 2015 Australian Open final to improve to 6-0 in the title matches at Melbourne Park.
GRAND CHEMELE 20
Williams overcame a lingering illness to defeat Lucie Safarova 6-3, 6-7(2), 6-2 in the 2015 French Open final for a third trophy in Paris.
GRAND CHEMELE 21
Williams extended her Grand Slam winning streak to 28 matches and completed a second “Serena Slam” of four straight majors by beating Garbiñe Muguruza 6-4, 6-4 in the 2015 Wimbledon final.
NO CALENDAR GRAND SLAM
Williams’ bid for tennis’ first true Grand Slam since 1988 – winning all four singles championships in a calendar year – was narrow: she lost in the 2015 US Open semi-final to Roberta Vinci, 43rd, 2-6, 6-4, 6-4.
GRAND CHEMELE 22
Williams equaled Graf’s record for most Grand Slam titles in the professional era (also known as the Open era, it started in 1968) by collecting No. 22 at Wimbledon in 2016 with a victory 7-5, 6-3 over Angelique Kerber in the final. It was a seventh Wimbledon trophy for Williams.
BIG CAMEL 23
Williams overtook Graf to claim the No. 23 record at the 2017 Australian Open with a win, deservedly, over Venus in the final, 6-4, 6-4. Only Margaret Court has won more Grand Slam singles titles in tennis history, 24, but only 11 of hers have come during the professional era. No one knew at the time, but Williams was pregnant in Melbourne Park; her daughter, Olympia, would have been born on September 1. Williams had to deal with health complications after the birth.
BACK TO TENNIS
Williams returned to Grand Slam action at the 2018 French Open and reached the final at Wimbledon and the US Open that year – and at both tournaments again in 2019. She was runner-up in all four time.
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