On the Court
Officially turned pro in 1995, playing in a qualifier at Quebec City and losing in straight sets. Played in the qualifying rounds of several events in 1997, with her first main draw appearance coming at Moscow that October, a 6-3, 7-6(6) loss to Kimberly Po-Messerli. A week later in Chicago, she took the tennis world by storm, defeating No. 27 Elena Likhovtseva, No. 7 Mary Pierce and No. 4 Monica Seles in succession before falling to No. 5 Lindsay Davenport in the semifinals. This was all accomplished with Williams ranked No. 304 and barely 16 years old, having had a birthday on Sept. 26.
Eager to prove that her big jump at the end of 1997 was no fluke, Williams started 1998 ranked No. 96, played through three rounds of qualifiers and wound up in the Sydney semifinals, upsetting No. 3 Davenport in the quarters. This sent her to No. 53 in the world, and she then reached the second round of the Australian Open by taking out No. 9 Irina Spirlea in the first round to enter the top 50 at No. 42. She reached successive quarterfinals at Oklahoma City, Miami and Rome to rise to No. 27 in the world, then made the fourth round of the French Open and the quarterfinals of Eastbourne to reach No. 20. She finished the year 19th with a 29-11 record.
Williams' first tournament title came in 1999 as she won Paris over Amelie Mauresmo. She followed that with a victory at Indian Wells over living legend Steffi Graf, a tournament in which Williams defeated three top 10 players. She was almost as dazzling at Miami, beating No. 3 Monica Seles, No. 9 Amanda Coetzer and No. 1 Martina Hingis in succession before falling to sister Venus, ranked No. 6, in a three-set final. The push moved Serena up to No. 10 in the world, but she had hardly peaked. She won Los Angeles, beating Hingis in the semifinals, then exploded in the US Open, winning three straight matches after losing the first set, including a quarterfinal over No. 4 Monica Seles, then beating Davenport in three sets in the semifinals and finally sweeping Hingis in the final to earn her first Grand Slam title, two weeks shy of her 18th birthday. The landmark victory sent her soaring up to No. 4 in the world and she capped the year by winning the Grand Slam Cup final over her sister in three sets.
Her first title of 2000 came at Hannover, but she struggled a bit for the next two months, dropping back to No. 8 in the world entering Wimbledon. There, she reached the semifinals before losing to Venus, then defended her title at Los Angeles. She lost to Davenport in the quarterfinals of the US Open to drop back to 8th, then won Tokyo to finish the season 37-8.
She won Indian Wells for the first time in 2001, defeating Kim Clijsters. She reached the quarterfinals at Roland Garros and Wimbledon, then won the Rogers Cup over Jennifer Capriati. She reached the final at the US Open for the second time in three seasons, defeating three top 6 players in a row, including No. 1 Hingis, before falling to her sister in the final. She won the year-end Sanex Championships over Davenport to finish the year 38-7.
She was sidelined for more than a month early in the 2002 season, returning to win Scottsdale in late Feburary, following it up with a victory at Miami in which she beat No. 3 Hingis, No. 2 Venus Williams and No. 1 Capriati in her last three matches. During the clay court season, she won Rome, then added her second Grand Slam title by storming to the Roland Garros crown, defeating sister Venus for the title to jump to No. 2 in the world for the first time. Took the next month off, then added the Wimbledown crown, again meeting and defeating her sister in the championship match. Doing so made Williams the first woman since Steffi Graf in 1996 to win Roland Garros and Wimbledon back to back, to take over No. 1 in the world. She made it three straight Grand Slam titles by taking the US Open crown, again over her sister, again in straight sets, joining Graf (1988, 1996), Martina Navratilova (1984) and Margaret Court (1970) as the only women to win all three crowns in the same year. She finished the season by winning Tokyo and Leipzig before losing the final of the tour championships to Clijsters to conclude a 56-5 campaign.
Picked up right where she left off in 2003, winning the Australian Open over sister Venus to hold all four Grand Slam titles at the same time, the only woman besides Graf in 1988 to do so. Won Paris and Miami before losing in the finals at Charleston to snap a 21-match win streak to start the season. Fell in the semifinals at Roland Garros, but repeated at Wimbledon against her sister. Was felled by an injury and finished the season 38-3.
In a stunning display, Williams was out until Miami in 2004, then won the event, losing just one set. She reached the Wimbledon final, but missed a third straight crown when she fell in straight sets to Maria Sharapova. Won her second title of the year at Beijing, then lost the tour championship final to Sharapova as well to end the season 39-9.
Healthy for the first time in two seasons, Williams kicked off 2005 by winning the Australian Open, defeating No. 1 Davenport in the final, moving from No. 7 to No. 2. Injuries plagued her again and she did not win another title, falling back to the end of the Top 10 and going just 21-7 overall.
The 2006 season saw another stretch of injury as Williams played in the Australian Open, then not again until mid-July, dropped to No. 139 in the world between those two events. Went 12-4 on the year.
Was back to full strength early in 2007, winning her third Australian Open title by edging Sharapova while ranked No. 81 in the world. Jumped 63 spots to No. 18 with the win, then won Miami to climb to No. 11. Lost to Henin in the quarterfinals of each of the next three Slams.
Won Bangalore, Miami and Charleston in succession early in 2008 to return to the Top 10. Made the final at Wimbledon for the first time since 2004, but lost the final to sister Venus. Fought her way to No. 3, then won the US Open for the first time since 2008 and the third time overall, this time defeating No. 2 Jelena Jankovic.
Won her fourth Australian Open title in 2009, reclaiming the No. 1 spot in the process. Added the WImbledon crown by beating Venus. Also won the tour championship over Venus to end the year 50-12.
Took her fifth Australian Open title in 2010, defeating Justine Henin in the final. Went on to win Wimbledon, defeating Vera Zvonareva while ranked No. 1 in the world, but stepped on glass outside a restaurant the next night and injured her foot, missing the rest of the season.
Finally returned in the 2011 season at Eastbourne. Won Stanford two weeks later, then the Rogers Cup. Reached the finals of the US Open, but was defeated by Samantha Stosur.
The 2012 season was her first healthy one since 2009. Her first tournament win was at Charleston, then she added Madrid over No. 1 Victoria Azarenka. At Wimbledon, defeated three top four players, including No. 3 Agnieszka Radwanska for the title. Went on to win Stanford, then took Olympic gold by defeating Sharapova in the final match. Burned even brighter at the US Open, defeating No. 1 Victoria Azarenka in three sets. Won the WTA Championships, going 5-0 and defeating Sharapova to finish a 58-4 campaign.
Grand Slam Titles: Singles (16): Australian Open (2003, 2005, 2007, 2009, 2010)
French Open (2002, 2013)
Wimbledon (2002, 2003, 2008, 2009, 2012)
US Open (1999, 2002, 2008, 2012)
Doubles (12): Australian Open (2001, 2003, 2009, 2010)
French Open (1999, 2010)
Wimbledon (2000, 2002, 2008, 2009, 2012)
US Open (1999, 2009)
Mixed Doubles (2): Wimbledon (1998)
US Open (1998)
Year-End Singles Rankings: 2012: 3
Off the Court
Is the daughter of Richard and Oracene, and has four sisters (one deceased), including Venus, herself a multi-time Grand Slam titlist. Earned a degree in fashion design and debuted her Nike apparel line in Paris in 2004.