The career of tennis star Serena Williams reads like the rags-to-riches stories of lore. Born in Michigan and raised in the tough streets of Compton, Calif., Serena and her sister Venus have catapulted themselves to the top of the tennis world with sheer athletic ability coupled with a gracious attitude that belies their talent. Although both sisters are considered veterans of the pro-tennis circuit, they’re still electrifying players that pack the stands. And just this past weekend, the curvy beauty hauled in her 15th major title at the U.S. Open (pictured below).
For Serena, September 11, 1999, was especially important because it was when she became only the second African-American woman to win (pictured above) the U.S. Open title – her first major of many to come.
Just 17 at the time, Serena Williams faced now-retired tennis star Martina Hingis. Although Williams had made a bold joke back then that she would need to play male players for stronger competition, she made her victory over Hingis look easy. Williams would follow in the footsteps of tennis pioneer Althea Gibson, the first Black woman to win a Grand Slam in 1956.
Watch Serena defeat Hingis here:
Tennis is an unforgiving sport, where injuries and age overtake the abilities of the athletes swiftly. Even at the age of 30, though, Serena Williams continues to haul in major titles and awards at a record rate. With 30 Grand Slam titles and four Olympic gold medals — including an unbeaten Grand Slam finals streak in doubles with her big sister Venus — it is refreshing to see that Serena promotes humility over boasting.