Thank You for the Olympic Memories, Serena
Serena Williams Was a Pretty Good Olympian, Too
We’re inevitably, unfortunately, and finally at the cusp of the end of a tennis era, with the announcement from Serena Williams in Vogue of her impending retirement from the professional circuit.
Following her older sister Venus into pro tennis, Williams debuted on the WTA Tour in October 1995 and by 1999 was ranked in the top ten. She first reached the number one ranking in July of 2002, and will end her career as number three all-time in weeks at number one with 317, behind only fellow legends Steffi Graf (377) and Martina Navratilova (332). And probably the go-to highlight statistic of her career will be her 23 career Grand Slam singles titles, a mark frustratingly stuck at second all-time. (Note: she also has 14 Grand Slam doubles titles.)
Her impact as a sports figure certainly has gone beyond the wins — Williams has been an inspiration and role model for tennis diversity and inclusion, of athleticism, of fashion, of business side hustles, and much more. Her presence has consistently cast a powerful impression in the tennis circuit, both in media and on the court.
Williams will also leave behind a remarkable legacy as a Team USA Olympian.
An Olympic Champion
Williams appeared for Team USA in four Games: Sydney 2000, Beijing 2008, London 2012, and Rio 2016. It would have been five had a knee injury not prevented her from Athens 2004. Of missing Athens, Williams said, “I’ve never been so disappointed in my career”.
Her gold medal run started in those 2000 Games, with a championship alongside sister Venus in the women’s doubles event defeating Dutchwomen Kristie Boogert & Miriam Overmans 6–1 6–1 in the final.
The two would win doubles again in Beijing, defeating Spaniards Anabel Medina & Virginia Ruano 6–2 6–0 for the gold. And in London, the pair had a tougher final match, but still overcame Czechs Andrea Hlaváčková & Lucie Hradecká 6–4 6–4.
At London 2012, Williams secured her one individual gold, after a remarkable 6–0 6–1 dismantling of Maria Sharapova in the final, becoming the second woman after Graf (Seoul 1988) to win the career ‘Golden Slam’ of singles titles across the four majors (Australian Open, French Open, Wimbledon, U.S. Open) and the Olympics. She also became only the second woman to win both the singles and same-sex doubles titles at the same Games, after Venus did so in 2000.
With her four golds, Williams is tied with her sister with the most Olympic tennis titles in history.
Thanks for the memories!