Serena Williams is hailed as one of the best female tennis players in the Open Era. Her entry on the court meant a shakeup of the global tennis order. A role model and one of the most recognisable faces in the sport, Williams is also known for her style statements – both on and off the court – as well as activism aimed at broader social change. What’s more, she established the Serena Williams Foundation to assist American youth touched by violent crime and underprivileged children around the world.
DATE OF BIRTH
26 September 1981
Wilson Sporting Goods
Among the world’s highest paid athletes
Winner of 23 Grand Slam titles
Four time Olympic gold medallist
Founder of the Aneres clothing line
I really think a champion is defined not by their wins but by how they can recover when they fall
Q: In your opinion, what attributes make Serena Williams one of the greatest of all time both on and off the field?
A: On the court, Williams has demonstrated that she can dominate from the first point itself. She plays to her strengths with no long rallies and is a good front-runner.
Secondly, Williams has several ways in which she continues to work on her weaknesses. For example, after giving birth to her daughter, she lost speed getting to the ball; she now spends extra time training on this.
Williams has also been gracious in defeat such as in recent losses at the US Open to Naomi Osaka and at Wimbledon to Simona Halep.
Off the court, Williams has made tennis work for her. Brand endorsements through Nike, investments in the pro football franchise, an entrepreneurial spirit (in the form of her own clothes line), devotion to charities and inspiring young athletes has made her a force off the court as well.
Q: What particular moments do you believe have defined her career?
A: While there are certainly countless achievements that have shaped her career, it would be remiss to not mention Williams’ unique achievement of 23 Grand Slam titles.
The fact that she got on the court to play competitive tennis after giving birth to her daughter spoke volumes for Williams’ personality and temperament. Additionally, she has made it to two Grand Slam finals; for tennis players, it is hard to describe what this signifies.
Q: Can aspiring Sri Lankan sportspersons take steps to accomplish as much as Williams has?
A: Williams’ career demonstrates the importance of continuously persevering to enhance your skills.
Unfortunately, several of our top juniors relocate to the US on tennis scholarships and stop playing at higher levels; ideally, as Williams has illustrated, you should never let your competitive spirit be stilled.
She is driven by a killer instinct and in a recent interview was quoted as saying: “I don’t have time to be brought down. I have to win more Grand Slams. I have people to inspire.”
Non-Executive Director of several leading Sri Lankan companies
Former national tennis champion and holder of 20 national titles
SAF Games Gold medallist and ATP world ranked tennis player
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