The Inspiring Career of Serena Williams

Brody Ebright '25, Communications Editor

When people think of a female tennis player, Serena Williams comes to mind pretty much 100% of the time.

Serena has become an inspiration for female tennis players and athletes in general. Her story shows how people can accomplish their dreams with lots of hard work and dedication.

Serena grew up in Compton, which was not a wealthy neighborhood. She shared a two-bedroom house with her parents and six other siblings.

Serena’s tennis story starts at 5 years old, watching Althea Gibson become the first black woman to win a Grand Slam tournament. Serena’s dad, Richard Williams, was a tennis coach and wanted to teach Serena and her sister Venus how to play. So, Richard took Serena and Venus to their local public tennis courts in Los Angeles to practice. Richard was known for being a strict coach, as the sisters would often practice in the scalding heat for hours.

After years of training on the public courts, the sisters gained the attention of local tennis coaches. The coaches offered to help the sisters further and have them play competitively. They signed with the coach Rick Macci, and of course, they dominated almost every game that they played. Initially, Venus played tennis better than Serena, so everyone expected her to go pro.

In 1991, the Williams moved to Florida to train at the tennis academy of Rick Macci in Delray Beach, and played every day, morning and night. Eventually, the sisters gained a lot of attention in the tennis world after playing in multiple tournaments. During this time, Serena’s skills got better, eventually surpassing Venus.

After training for five years and participating in as many tournaments as she could, Serena joined the US open in 1999. In competition with 127 other people, all of whom were older, Serena prevailed.

At 17 years old, Serena won the US Open. Since then, Serena has won 23 Grand Slam titles. (The Grand Slam consists of the US Open, Australian Open, Wimbledon, and the French Open).

Serena has become an idol for the black community, women, and novice tennis players. While she was not the first black woman to play tennis, she was revolutionary in changing the bias surrounding female sports. In a battle of the sexes match at the Australian Open, Roger Federer was in awe at how Williams’ serve was “impossible to read.”

Serena is widely known throughout the tennis community and the world for her empowering story of determination and success. She shows how it is possible to come from nearly nothing and be successful at whatever you want.