You are here
Home > Tournament > 15 facts you didn’t know about Serena Williams, the Sports Illustrated ‘Sportsperson of the Year’

15 facts you didn’t know about Serena Williams, the Sports Illustrated ‘Sportsperson of the Year’

Serena Williams on the cover of Sports Illustrated as Sportsperson of the Year. Photo courtesy: USA Today
Serena Williams on the cover of Sports Illustrated as Sportsperson of the Year. Photo courtesy: USA Today

American tennis legend Serena Williams has just been named the Sportsperson of the Year by Sports Illustrated.

“This year was spectacular for me,” Serena wrote on her Instagram page. “For Sports Illustrated to recognize my hard work, my dedication, and my sheer determination gives me hope to continue on and do better.”

And the award is completely justified; Williams won an impressive 53 out of 56 matches in 2015. She also became the third woman – and only the first ever black woman – to win the award since its inception in 1954.

And on the occasion of such a momentous achievement, we thought we’d bring you 15 interesting facts about the tennis superstar.

1. Serena Jameka Williams was born on September 26, 1981, in Saginaw, Michigan. She is fifteen months younger than sister and tennis pro Venus Williams. The youngest of five sisters, Serena grew up with Venus and older sisters Lyndrea, Isha & Yetunde. Her oldest sister Yetunde Price was murdered in Los Angeles, California in the fall of 2003.

2. She began playing tennis at age 5 at public courts in Compton, California, where they remember having to duck gunfire. Despite this difficult beginning their skills developed rapidly. Both her and sister Venus were home-schooled to ensure the two girls had the maximum time to practice their game.

3. Serena is a Jehovah’s Witness. She became one after mother converted in the early 1980s. She has generally kept her faith private, but after winning her sixth Australian Open in January, she opened up. “I have to thank Jehovah God for this,” she said. “I was down and out and He helped me today and I just said prayers, not to win but to be strong and to be healthy, and in the end I was able to come through, so I have to give the glory to Him first and foremost.”

4. When Serena and Venus met in the finals of the 1999 Lipton Championships, it was the first time since 1884 that two sisters faced each other in the final of a pro event. Incidentally, Venus won. The same year, Serena won the US Open, becoming the first black woman to win a Grand Slam professional tennis tournament since Althea Gibson in 1958.

5. On January 25, 2003, Serena won the Australian Open, and completed the ‘Serena Slam’ when she was the holder of titles of all four majors – the Australian Open, French Open, Wimbledon and the US Open.

6. She starred with Venus in the reality TV series ‘Venus and Serena: For Real’. Both sisters appeared in the Simpsons episode ‘Tennis the Menace’. In 2007, Serena appeared in Common’s music video ‘I Want You’, alongside Alicia Keys and Kanye West. In July 2012, she appeared in the ABC comedy series ‘Trust Us With Your Life’ and as a lawyer on the television series ‘Drop Dead Diva’.

7. In 2009, she was fined and placed on probation for allegedly threatening a lineswoman. Two months later, she was placed on a two-year probation and ordered to pay another $82,500 to the Grand Slam committee for the episode. It was largest punishment ever for a tennis player.

Serena Williams after her 2013 French Open triumph at Roland Garros. Photo courtesy: Wikimedia Commons
Serena Williams after her 2013 French Open triumph at Roland Garros. Photo courtesy: Wikimedia Commons

8. Serena is a certified nail technician. In 2010, she launched a nail collection with a company called HairTech. Her interest in fashion isn’t limited to nails and her on-court flair. Serena reportedly hoped to design wedding dresses. “That was my first real love,” she recently told New York magazine, “but then I was like, ‘Listen. I’m playing professional tennis. I’ll just do athletic wear.’” She has also developed her own line of clothing – “Aneres” (her name spelled backwards).

9. After the 2010 Haiti earthquake, Serena teamed up with her ATP and WTA colleagues to forgo their final day of preparation for that year’s Australian Open. They group created a charity event and all proceeds went to the victims in Haiti.

10. In 2011, Serena underwent emergency procedure for a blood clot in her lungs. In the same year, she was appointed a UNICEF international goodwill ambassador.

11. After winning her fifth Wimbledon singles title in 2012, tennis great John McEnroe declared her the greatest female player of all time.

12. In 2013 at age 31, Serena Williams became the oldest female tennis player to be ranked number 1 since computer rankings began in 1975.

13. Her favorite author is Maya Angelou. Her hobbies are watching movies and football, reading, acting, talking on the phone, spending time with family and friends. Her favorite color is purple. Some of her favorite singers include Mariah Carey and Brandy.

14. Serena and Venus are minority owners of the Miami Dolphins, making them the first female African-Americans to hold a stake in an NFL franchise. The sisters reside in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida, where they also did a majority of their training. “We’re just ‘Go Fins!’­type people,” Serena once said.

15. Serena has been ranked number one in the world five times and has earned more prize money than any other female player in history.

Leave a Reply

Top