Serena Williams - Tennis Player - Business Woman and Activist

Serena Williams - Tennis Player - Business Woman and Activist

Serena Williams is an American tennis player, business woman, activist and fashion icon.

Considered the greatest player of all time, she has won 39 Grand Slam singles and doubles titles to date: 7 Australian Opens, 3 French Opens, 7 Wimbledons and 6 US Opens in singles; 4 Australian Opens, 2 French Opens, 6 Wimbledons and 2 US Opens in women's doubles with her sister Venus Williams; 1 Wimbledon and 1 US Open in mixed doubles.

She was ranked No. 1 in the world in singles by the Women's Tennis Association for 319 weeks, including a record 186 consecutive weeks, and finished the year at No. 1 five times. She won 23 Grand Slam singles titles, the most of any player in the Open Era and the second most of all time.

Coached by her parents, along with her sister Venus Williams, she turned professional in 1995 and won her first ever major singles title at the 1999 US Open. She dominated from the 2002 French Open to the 2003 Australian Open, winning all four Grand Slam tournaments (major titles) in a row, a feat not seen since Steffi Graf nine years earlier. This performance was named the "Serena Slam".

Williams also won 14 major women's doubles titles with her sister, an undefeated record in Grand Slam doubles finals; 4 Olympic gold medals, including 3 in women's doubles, another all-time record shared with her sister; and 2 major mixed doubles titles in 1998.

The arrival of the Williams sisters marked the beginning of a new era of power and athleticism on the women's professional tennis circuit.

Serena Williams holds the most combined major titles in singles, doubles and mixed doubles among active players. She is third on the all-time list and second in the Open Era for total major titles. She is the most recent woman to hold all four major singles titles simultaneously (2002-2003 and 2014-2015), and the most recent to win the Surface Slam (major titles on hard, clay and grass in the same calendar year) in 2015. She is also, along with her sister Venus, the most recent player to hold all four major titles in women's doubles simultaneously (2009-2010).

The highest paid female athlete of all time, she has won the Laureus Sportswoman of the Year Award four times (2003, 2010, 2016 and 2018), and was named Sports Illustrated Magazine's Sportsperson of the Year in December 2015.

In August 2022, Williams announced her impending retirement from professional tennis. But the queen of tennis has several strings to her racket and knows how to get people talking.

In Gucci at the Met Gala 2021 and the Oscars 2022, in Versace at the wedding of Meghan Markle and Prince Harry, an appearance on the catwalk of the Off-White fashion show in tribute to Virgil Abloh, or on the tennis court in a pink Barbiecore trendy outfit, a denim skirt, a white trench coat or an asymmetrical Nike jumpsuit, Serena Williams imposes herself as a fashion icon on the court as well as on the red carpets, with bold outfits, sometimes creating some controversies.

In February 2019, Williams was appointed to the board of online fashion marketplace Poshmark. In fall 2019, she launches the first collection of her sustainable clothing line S by Serena. Inspired by 1990s streetwear, the collection focuses on inclusivity by being featured on body types and sizes ranging from XS to 3X.

On the literary side, in 2005, the Williams sisters partnered with author Hilary Beard to write a book titled Venus & Serena: Serving From The Hip: 10 Rules For Living, Loving and Winning. Serena also published her first solo autobiography, On the Line, in 2009.

She has also made several television appearances and lent her voice to animated series.

She joined the cast of The Simpsons, with her sister Venus, for an episode in 2001. In 2002, she played the role of Miss Wiggins in an episode of season 3 of "My Wife and Kids", appeared as an extra in episodes of "The Bernie Mac Show", "ER" and "Law & Order", and in 2012, she played the role of a lawyer in an episode of the series "Drop Dead Diva".

In April 2005, ABC Family aired a reality show based on the lives of Serena and Venus. In 2007, she appeared in the video for "I Want You" by the American rapper Common, alongside artists Alicia Keys and Kanye West. In late 2009, Williams became the first active professional athlete to appear in an advertising campaign for a feminine hygiene product. In 2015, to celebrate the 35th anniversary of Pac-Man, she made an appearance in the movie Pixels, and in 2021 signed a tentative agreement with Amazon Studios.

Beyond the tennis court, red carpets and film studios, Serena Williams also gives her heart and soul to good causes. As her career progresses, she becomes more and more involved in social change and uses her social networks to express her opinions.

In 2004 and 2005, along with her sister Venus, Serena visited hospitals and played several tennis matches in predominantly black cities to raise money for local Ronald McDonald House charities. An episode of ESPN was dedicated to their charity tour.

In 2008, through the Serena Williams Foundation, Serena helped fund the construction of the Serena Williams Secondary School in Matooni, Kenya. Her foundation also provides college scholarships to disadvantaged students in the United States.

In 2010, in response to the earthquake in Haiti, Williams and other ATP and WTA stars gave up their last day of preparation for the Australian Open to create a charity event with all proceeds going to the victims.

In May 2018, she actually promotes her new clothing line by wearing a skin-tight, superhero-like jumpsuit on the French Open court. She also made news at the 2018 US Open, wearing a black tutu for her match against Magda Linette.

In April 2004, she signed a contract worth $ 40 million for a line with Nike. Since that same year, she also runs her own branded clothing line named Aneres (Serena spelled backwards). In 2009, she launched a collection of handbags and jewelry called Signature Statement, sold mainly on the HSN network. In early 2010, Serena Williams became a certified nail technician, in preparation for her upcoming nail collection with the company HairTech.

In April 2015, she became the first black female athlete to have her photo on the cover of Vogue magazine. That same year, she also presented her HSN Signature Statement collection for the second time at New York Fashion Week.

She and her sister Venus support and contribute to First Serve Miami, a foundation for young people who want to learn tennis but are socially and economically disadvantaged. Serena has also been an international goodwill ambassador for UNICEF since 2011, including helping to launch their Schools for Asia campaign.

In 2014, Williams started an annual charity run called "The Serena Williams Ultimate Fun Run." The event, in support of the Serena Williams Foundation, helps underprivileged individuals and communities that are affected by senseless violence and to ensure equal access to education for young people.

In 2016, she proudly displays her support for the Black Lives Matter movement and writes an open letter in Porter magazine's "Incredible Women of 2016" column to discuss gender equality and her personal struggles as a woman in tennis. She notes that women's contributions to tennis are not recognized in the same way as men's, and also discusses equal pay issues. She ends her letter by stating that she hopes her letter will inspire a new generation of women to "push for greatness and follow their dreams with steadfast resilience."

That same year, the Serena Williams Foundation partners with Helping Hands Jamaica to build the Salt Marsh Elementary School for Jamaican youth in Trelawny Parish. Serena and Venus collaborate at the Williams Sisters Fund to work together on philanthropic projects, and team 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 is in partnership with the Equal Justice Initiative, a nonprofit organization that provides legal representation to those who may have been denied due process. EJI Executive Director Bryan Stevenson salutes Serena's courage in supporting her 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. […] 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 2017, Serena Williams became an ambassador for the Allstate Foundation's Project Purple Purse, an initiative to financially empower victims of domestic violence.

In 2018, she responded to American tennis player Tennys Sandgren's insensitive comments about the lgbtqia+ community and his reference on an article describing Williams' on-court behavior as "disgusting": "I don't need or want one. But there is an entire group of people that deserves an apology. I can't look at my daughter and tell her I sat back and was quiet. No! She will know how to stand up for herself and others – through my example." She attached an image to her tweet that read, "Maturity is being able to apologize and admit when you're wrong because you know that your mistakes don't define you."

Williams has received several awards for her activism, including for black communities. She also received a Celebrity Role Model Award from the Avon Foundation for her work on breast cancer in 2003. Essence magazine named her one of the 35 "Most Beautiful and Outstanding Black Women" in the world, and the NAACP honored her with the President's Award.

Among the other charities she supports, we can mention, Elton John AIDS Foundation, Great Ormond Street Hospital, Hearts of Gold, Common Ground Foundation, Small Steps Project, HollyRod Foundation, Beyond the Boroughs National Scholarship Fund, World Education, Eva Longoria Foundation, Caliber Foundation et la Cure for MND Foundation.

Sportswoman, businesswoman, activist, fashion icon, actress or writer, Serena Williams reigns over all fields.


© Photo:Marianne Bevis - CC BY-ND 2.0