Serena Jameka Williams is the greatest women’s tennis player to ever pick up a racquet and arguably the best athlete ever, male or female. A winner of 23 Grand Slams, the most ever by a player in the Open era and the second-most behind Margaret Court.
She also has 14 Grand Slam doubles titles and two Grand Slam mixed doubles titles, giving her 39 career Grand Slam titles. Her $94 million in prize money is the most ever for a female athlete. But it’s her devotion to human issues, using her celebrity to champion causes like body imaging, gender and pay inequity and racial equality, that makes her iconic. Her fierce, competitive nature extends beyond the court.
Serena Speaks On Racial Equality After First Grand Slam Title In 1999: Watershed Moment
Serena’s upset win over the youngest No. 1 ranked player ever and heavy favorite Martina Hingis in the 1999 U.S. Open Final, was where the Serena Williams phenomenon hit the mainstream. Williams became just the second Black woman to win a Grand Slam, joining Althea Gibson, who won in 1956. Since that day, Serena has made it a point to talk about what it means to be a Black woman competing in a sport where most competitors don’t look like her.
Throughout her career Serena has been scrutinized and dissected over her body. One that consists of refined biceps, and a muscular, toned frame that aids her elite power and athleticism. She’s used it to dominate tennis for the last 20 plus years.
But she’s always fired back at her critics. Never one to hold her tongue, Williams is an outspoken advocate for women’s fight against “body shaming.”