Earlier this year, at the beginning of August, one of the world’s greatest tennis players announced her retirement. Serena Williams, holds the record of 23 Grand Slams for singles tennis in the Open Era. 

Growing up playing tennis in Compton, California, Serena and her older sister, Venus, mastered the art of tennis playing. They took over the tennis scene and revolutionized the sport. Her family played a major role in her upbringing. Her father, Richard Williams, taught both Venus and Serena almost all of what they know about the beloved sport. He read books and watched videos of tennis players to teach himself the sport, before bringing them out on public courts everyday while they practiced for hours on end. When she was 10 years old, the family moved to Florida, to pursue their love for the sport at a tennis academy. They were coached by Rick Macci, a well known coach, who produced many notable tennis players. Andy Roddick, Maria Sharapova, and Jennifer Capriati, to name a few. Little did Serena and Venus know that they were to be next on the list. 

The two siblings grew up very close and supported each other throughout their upbringing. Although the sisters are best known for their singles matches, they made an amazing pair when they did play doubles. In fact Venus was Serena’s only doubles partner ever. Serena did have three other half sisters, but it comes as no surprise that she was closest to Venus. When asked about her sisters, Serena said, “Yetunde was the forgiver with a heart of gold, Isha was the caretaker who looked after all her sisters. Lyndrea was the ever-ready play pal. I’m not sure as how others saw Venus. But to me she was like a benevolent bodyguard.” It is not hard to see that Serena loves her family and treasures them on so many levels.

Serena went pro when she was only thirteen years old. During her career, Serena broke records as the second black woman ever to win a Grand Slam, going on to win 22 more Gram Slam titles. She won the gold in the 2000 Olympics hosted in Sydney, Australia. 

On August 9th, the beloved tennis star announced that last tournament would be the US Open. She decided it was the right decision to make after pulling out of both the 2020 French Open 2022 Australian Open due to injuries. Her last Grand Slam title came in 2017’s Australian Open while she was pregnant with her daughter, Alexis. Serena fought hard for a 24th title, but lost her final match to Ajla Tomljanovic after playing three sets. Before leaving the court, Serena thanked her fans and family in a post game interview: “It all started with my parents. And they deserve everything. So, I’m really grateful for them. (…) And I wouldn’t be Serena, if there wasn’t Venus. So thank you, Venus! She’s the only reason that Serena Williams ever existed, so I don’t know, I just everyone from Jill to Isha to my sister Lyn, to my husband, to Olympia, to Jarmere. Everyone in that box Eric, Renee, Alexis, Kristy, Derrick. It’s been a fun ride. It’s been the most incredible ride and journey I’ve ever been on, I mean, in my life. And I’m just so grateful to every single person that’s ever said, ‘Go, Serena!’ in their life. I’m just so grateful, because yeah, you got me here.” Her retirement was well deserved after dedicating the first 40 years of her life to a career of persistence and perseverance. Her matches will be missed by so many fans around the world, but we can’t wait to see what this icon decides to do next!