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"I learned so much; I remember it being pivotal in my career" - Serena Williams on why she cherishes her Sydney Olympics experience under Billie Jean King's guidance

Serena Williams and Venus Williams at the Sydney Olympic Games (L); Serena Williams and Billie Jean King at the 2022 US Open (R).
Serena Williams and Venus Williams at the Sydney Olympic Games (L); Serena Williams and Billie Jean King at the 2022 US Open (R).

Serena Williams has revealed that the 2000 Olympic Games in Sydney was one of the most pivotal tournaments of her career and, by far, the best Olympic Games of her life. The American, who participated in four different Olympics and won four gold medals during her illustrious career, also opened up about Team USA captain Billie Jean King's positive impact on her during the 2000 Games.

Williams did not qualify for the singles event at the Sydney Olympics despite winning the 1999 US Open due to the level of competition in the American team from the likes of Monica Seles, Lindsay Davenport, Jennifer Capriati, and her sister Venus Williams. However, she earned a ticket to her maiden Olympic Games by qualifying for doubles with Venus as her partner, and the siblings won doubles gold for Team USA.

The 41-year-old went down memory lane to reveal her experience at the Sydney Games, explaining why it was her best Olympics despite not qualifying for the singles draw.

"Best Olympics of my life to this day," Serena Williams said, during a recent chat with King, Borna Coric, and Reilly Opelka, among others, for Wilson Tennis.

For the American tennis great, being part of the 'Olympic Games spectacle' remains one of her most special experiences ever.

"I didn't qualify even though I won the (US) Open. That's how tough it was in America, like everyone was so good. It was like Monica Seles, Lindsay Davenport, Venus, and (Jennifer) Capriati, it was impossible to break in, it was nuts. And I didn't qualify for the Olympics in singles which was crazy. So I just played doubles and I was so happy because I got to go everywhere and I got to watch all the matches, I went to different events. I've never been able to do that since. It was an amazing experience to just be. I was the only person happy to not qualify," the 41-year-old continued.

The 23-time Grand Slam winner is grateful to have learned so many valuable lessons from Billie Jean King during her "pivotal" Olympics campaign, calling King the "best captain." She also joked that she remembers being very funny back then.

"Billie was the best captain hands down. I learned so much from Billie and it definitely helped. I remember it being pivotal in my career, and I remember how funny I was even back then," Williams expressed.

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"I just remember being so confident after that trip" - Serena Williams on her Sydney Olympics campaign

Venus and Serena Williams celebrate doubles win
Venus and Serena Williams celebrate doubles win

Reflecting on her 2000 Sydney Olympics campaign, Serena Williams further went on to say that some of Billie Jean King's teachings from back then have stayed with her throughout her career.

The overall experience and winning her maiden gold medal for her country gave Williams great confidence going forward. She also said that she still vividly remembers some of King's valuable advice, which also helped her while practicing ahead of the 2022 US Open.

"I remember because I won the US Open after that and I just remember being so confident after that trip. Even today, I'm not kidding, I was hitting out and I was like, 'You gotta move your feet, you gotta move your feet,' because you (King) were like, 'You can't just hit over it. You have to move. You can't be still.' I'll never forget that," Serena Williams said.

Meanwhile, King reminisced about the 'player dinners' during the Olympics campaign and revealed how Serena and Venus Williams often made everyone laugh.

"You and Venus saved the player dinner. We always had a player dinner on Friday nights, when you two arrived, you made it hilarious, so you saved the dinner," Billie Jean King said in jest to Williams.

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Edited by Anirudh
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