How ironic is it that two of the best women tennis players globally are sisters? Venus Williams and Serena Williams took the game of tennis by storm at young ages. Both Williams sisters were ranked number one worldwide in their tennis careers.
On June 17, 1980, Venus Williams was born in Lynwood, California. She is one year older than Serena. Venus is regarded as one of the best grass-court tennis players of the 21st century. She has won the major grass-court championship, Wimbledon, five times since 2000. Venus has an awesome all-around tennis game, but her best weapon is her powerful serve. At her peak, she had one of the most feared serves in women’s tennis. Venus also uses her height and long reach to get to balls that most players can’t reach.
On September 26, 1981, Serena Williams was born in Saginaw, Michigan. Many deem her one of the greatest tennis players in history, male or female. She is a very well-rounded player winning multiple Grand Slam titles on all surfaces. Serena also possesses a powerful serve and plays the baseline with the best in tennis. Serena is one of the few tennis players to hold all 4 Grand Slam titles simultaneously.
When Serena was four years old, Richard Williams, Venus and Serena’s dad, started teaching his daughters how to play tennis. As young as age seven, the Venus Williams’ tennis talents were recognized by Tony Chesta, a local professional tennis player. Venus would turn pro at 14-years-old and Serena did the same the following year. The Williams sisters’ story from Compton to Wimbledon is captivating and awe-inspiring. Here are some interesting facts about Venus and Serena Williams.
They were raised Jehovah’s Witness.
Venus and Serena were raised as Jehovah’s Witness by their mother, Oracene Price. She converted to the religion in the 1980s. Jehovah’s Witnesses are recognized for their door-to-door approach to sharing their faith, and they don’t honor birthdays or most holidays. They also abstain from contributing to politics. While Venus and her sister Serena have been private about their religious faith, both still make time to attend services and log their hours for the required door-to-door ministry.
Sports Illustrated profiled Venus as a kid.
At an age when most kids are playing outside with their friends, Venus was being featured in Sports Illustrated, giving her national acknowledgment as a rising tennis star. When the 1991 article entitled “Child’s Play” came out, Venus was just 10 years old. When asked about her dreams for the future, Williams hoped to play at Wimbledon and fly to Jupiter. As for her tennis technique? She explained, “I try to see if they’re playing smart and concentrating and playing to their opponent’s weaknesses.” “That’s what I try to do when I play.”
Venus became the first Black tennis player to be ranked number 1 in the Open era.
On February 25, 2002, Venus made history by becoming the first Black tennis player to be ranked number one worldwide. When interviewed about her success, she quickly acknowledged Althea Gibson, another tennis great whose career in the 1950s and ’60s came before official world rankings. “She was the first,” Williams said of Gibson. “More than anything, I just feel proud to represent America in my sport.” Arthur Ashe won three Grand Slam titles, but he never achieved the top ranking.
Venus earned two college degrees while maintaining her tennis career.
Venus is evidence that you have all success in every area of your life. Though she has been playing tennis nearly all of her life, Williams’s dad, the guiding force behind her career, always stressed the importance of education over anything else. In 1992, Richard told the South Florida Sun-Sentinel, “Too many Black athletes think sports is the only way out. But sports is a vehicle to get an education. I’m looking for my kids to be well-balanced. I want them to be role models, but athletes are not great role models. I want to see them develop their education with their tennis.”
Making good on her aspirations, Williams received an associate’s degree in Fashion Design from the Art Institute of Fort Lauderdale in 2007. She also earned a B.S. in Business Administration from Indiana University East in 2015, all this while being one of the greatest tennis players of all time and managing a successful business portfolio.
Serena won the Australian Open while pregnant.
In 2017, Serena sparked hours of frenzied speculation on social media after posting a picture of herself on Snapchat, only to delete it hours later. On Snapchat, she revealed that she was 20 weeks pregnant with her first child. Williams got engaged to Reddit founder Alexis Ohanian at the end of the previous season. Fans quickly did their math and figured out that Williams would have been in the early stages of pregnancy when she won her record-breaking 23rd Grand Slam title at the Australian Open without dropping a single set.
Venus and Serena are part-owners of the Miami Dolphins.
The success that Venus and Serena experienced on the court translated off the court with several entrepreneurial endeavors. One of their most high-profile business moves came about in 2009 when they purchased a minority stake in the Miami Dolphins.
Venus told ESPN, “To have this opportunity is really where our heart is. We’re South Florida girls. When we get off the road, this is where we come home. When we come home to Dolphins games, it’s going to be exciting.” This business move was another historic moment, as their purchase made Venus and Serena the first Black women to hold a stake in an NFL franchise.
Venus and Serena Williams’ story shows that you can be successful if you work hard and have a great support system. Their father, Richard, poured love and support into his daughters, and they blossomed into two of the greatest tennis players of all time. Their story is a testament that you don’t have let your environment and circumstances define you. If you have a dream, pursue it at all costs and watch how far you go.