Tennis great Serena Williams is celebrating her 36th birthday today!
Since starting tennis training at the early age of three, Williams has broke down barriers, along with her sister Venus, and blazed her own trail in a traditionally white-male dominated sport. While doing it, she has used her platform to speak out on racial injustice, advocate for equal pay for Black women, build multiple schools in Africa, and give back to her hometown of Compton, California by opening a community center to support residents affected by gun violence. Williams once said, “I never thought about leaving a tennis legacy. I always thought about leaving a legacy of fulfillment, living out your dreams, and giving back.”
She’s clearly done both. To celebrate her life and legacy, here are five of Serena Williams’ major career moments.
1. September 1995– When Serena Williams turned professional at age 14. Although she lost her debut tennis match the following month, her professional tennis debut marked the beginning of her journey to become one of the best tennis players of all time.
2. September 11,1999– When Williams became the first African American woman to win the U.S. Open since tennis pioneer Althea Gibson in 1958.
3. January 2003– When Williams achieved her first “Serena Slam”, where a player is the current holder of all four major championships at the same time.
Photo credit: Nick Latham
4. February 18, 2013– When Williams became the oldest tennis player to be ranked number one in the world.
5. January 28, 2017– When Williams won the Australian Open and set a grand slam record by winning her 23rd major singles title, which is more than any other female and male tennis player in the history of the Open Era (mind you, Williams won this title while being eight weeks pregnant).
Photo credit: Reuters
Happy birthday to one of the greatest athletes of all time!