Venus Williams is one of the greatest female tennis players of all time, and a path-breaker in many ways. She and her sister Serena have redefined the way women's tennis is played, bringing unprecedented power and athleticism to the sport.
By displaying grace and determination both on and off the court, Venus has transcended the boundaries of tennis and become an exemplary role model for women and people of color. She has been an inspiration to millions of people, including her younger sister, and to this day she continues to make an indelible mark on every tournament she plays.
Best finish at each of the four Grand Slams:
Australian Open: Runner-up (2003, 2017)
French Open: Runner-up (2002)
Wimbledon: 5-time Champion (2000, 2001, 2005, 2007, 2008)
US Open: 2-time Champion (2000, 2001)
Highest Ranking: No. 1
No. of weeks at No. 1: 11
Style of play, strengths and weaknesses
Venus is the very definition of an aggressive player, looking to impose her physicality every chance she gets.
She has a very good serve, which she uses to win free points as well as set up her power-packed groundstrokes. While her second serve is occasionally a source of worry, yielding a few double faults , her serve is a major weapon overall due to its sheer speed.
Venus' forehand is flat and forceful, and she can direct to any corner of the court with ease. Her backhand, however, is possibly her best shot. Dependable and accurate, the Venus backhand was truly revolutionary; few women before her, if any, could generate as much power and as consistently as the American did.
Venus has a good volley, and she has started coming to the net more often as her career has progressed. She remains primarily a baseliner though, and her volley is more of a finishing shot than a go-to attacking strategy.
Venus is very quick around the court, and during her prime years she ran down practically everything. Her foot speed has reduced over the years though, and today her defense is the weakest part of her game.
Significant Venus Williams records
Venus created many firsts as she sprinted across the courts in the early 2000s. Here is a list of her most impressive records:
- First African-American woman to ever be ranked World No. 1
- First player ranked outside the top 50 to reach the US Open final (1997), and one of only two women (along with Pam Shriver in 1978) to reach the US Open final on her first attempt
- One of only two women (along with sister Serena) to win 4 Olympics gold medals in tennis
- One of only two players (male or female) to win 5 Olympics medals, and to win an Olympic medal in singles, doubles and mixed doubles (both records shared with Kathleen McKane Godfree)
- Only player ever to win an Olympic medal in 4 different editions of the Games
- Most appearances in Grand Slams singles draws (80)
- Lowest ranked (31st) and lowest seeded (23rd) woman to ever win Wimbledon (2007)
- Held the record for fastest ever serve by a woman (129mph) for 7 years, until Sabine Lisicki broke it in 2014
Venus was born in Lynwood, California, and moved with her family to West Palm Beach, Florida, at the age of 10. Both the Williams sisters joined Rick Macci's tennis academy upon arriving in Florida, although their parents Richard and Oracene Price remained their primary coaches for a long time.
Venus had compiled a flawless 63-0 record on the United States Tennis Association junior tour, but withdrew from national competitions at the age of 11, upon the insistence of her father Richard. Both Venus and Serena then joined the pro tour in their late teens, and many attribute their longevity to the fact that they didn't burn themselves out early on.
In 2003 Venus faced a great personal tragedy, as her half-sister Yetunde Price was killed after getting caught in the crossfire of a gang-related shootout.
In 2011, Venus was diagnosed with the auto-immune disease called Sjogren's Syndrome, which severely affected her stamina on the court. After weeks of treatment including a change in diet, Venus returned to the tour and slowly started getting back to her old self.
Venus is an avid fashionista, having earned a degree in fashion design from the Art Institute of Fort Lauderdale. She has her own designer label called 'Eleven', which creates athletic apparel for women.
With 7 singles Grand Slams, 14 doubles Grand Slams, 2 mixed doubles Grand Slams and 4 Olympic gold medals, Venus has a record that most tennis players would kill to have.
And yet, Venus' legacy goes much beyond titles and statistics. Through her journey to the top of the sport, her vocal fight for equality, and her longevity that seemingly defies the laws of biology, Venus has done more for the progress of women's tennis than anyone since Billie Jean King.
She has been outspoken about the need to eradicate racism and sexism, and was instrumental in helping facilitate equal pay for men and women at the Grand Slams (especially Wimbledon). Venus has also been the epitome of sportsmanship and dignity in every interview she has ever given.
As she nears 40, she continues to inspire both athletes and common people every time she steps on the court. Her place in the history books will likely stand the test of time.
Social media presence:
Venus Williams Instagram: @venuswilliams
Venus Williams Twitter: @Venuseswilliams