OPINION: Game changer Serena Williams leaves behind a lasting legacy
Strong, powerful and outspoken, Williams has cemented her place among the legends of tennis.
Serena Williams at this week’s Cincinnati Masters, in the build-up to the US Open. Picture: Getty Images
Though her sister Venus is 15 months older, Serena Williams was the first of the famous siblings to make a major impact at the highest level of international tennis, winning the US Open in 1999 at the age of 17.
Driven towards the sport from a young age by her father, Richard Williams, Serena started playing alongside Venus at the age of four, and she has since travelled a lengthy path.
While Venus was for some time showcased more in the public eye, Serena has ultimately emerged as a superstar – a living icon who has changed the game and helped lift the status of women’s sport.
Making an impact
Strong, powerful and outspoken, Williams has cemented her place as a tennis legend, and her long list of achievements is evident of just how much of an impact she has had on the court, while regular headlines have displayed the difference she’s made when she has stepped off of it.
She has argued with umpires and thrown her racquet, like all elite players at some point, but she has also fought for equality in the game, standing up against sexism and going as far as boycotting events to fight against racism.
And while her personal life has also been a source of news, as a celebrity athlete, it’s on the court where the 40-year-old player has shone the most.
Williams’ career record includes a remarkable 39 Grand Slam titles (23 singles, 14 doubles and two mixed doubles).
Former Australian star Margaret Court, who lifted 24 Grand Slam trophies between 1960 and 1973, is the only player to have secured more top-flight singles crowns.
Serena, who will retire after the US Open which starts at the end of this month, has also won five WTA Tour Finals and four Olympic gold medals, including three in the doubles division with sister Venus.
Her popularity will probably ensure she stays in the public sphere, at least in some way, but her final day on court will bring a close to a memorable era for women’s tennis.
Few will ever reach the heights achieved by Serena Williams, and though she will be missed, the legacy she leaves behind will live forever.