The Williams sisters made their WTA debut as 14-year-olds, in 1994 in Oakland for Venus and in 1995 right here in Quebec City for Serena. This means that the sisters have been entertaining tennis fans around the world for 25 years. They have dominated and revolutionized the sport for the past quarter-century and it’s safe to say that this has been the Williams era in tennis.
Needless to say, Venus and Serena are two of the greatest players of all time. They have dominated their opponents in every way imaginable throughout their careers and they continue to do so. In January of 2017 35-year-old Serena won her 23rd Grand Slam title at the Australian Open while eight weeks pregnant. And to make the story even better, she beat Venus in the final. A few months later, 37-year-old Venus reached another major final, this time at Wimbledon.
Known for their power, focus, and perseverance, the sisters have won a combined 30 Grand Slam singles trophies which is 10 more than all the players in the Top 100 combined. Pretty impressive statistic, right?
Here’s another good one: they were the two finalists at four consecutive majors between Roland-Garros in 2002 and the Australian Open in 2003. Simply incredible!
Between the two of them, the Williams sisters have held the WTA’s No. 1 ranking for a total of 330 weeks which is equivalent to about 6.5 years. Serena shares the record for most consecutive weeks at No. 1 with Steffi Graf at 186.
Their empire extends beyond the tennis court. From show business to interior design to fashion, the Williams sisters have many ventures. Venus is president of V Starr Interiors, an interior design company in West Palm Beach, Florida. She also launched her own clothing line, EleVen, and even wrote a few books including “Come to Win” in 2010. For her part, Serena has opened two schools in Kenya and just recently starred in her own HBO documentary called “Being Serena”.
The Williams sisters changed the face of women’s tennis, forcing their opponents to adapt to their power and consistency. Not many players can hit a 200 km/h serve like they can, let alone return it! The sisters changed the game by making it more physically demanding. Canadian Fed Cup captain Sylvain Bruneau says that since Venus and Serena arrived on the tour, the first shot in every rally has become so important. They are always trying to get in the first strike every point whether it be on serve or returning. Their peers must find a way to match their aggressive play. Nicolas Perrotte, Head National Fitness Coach for Tennis Canada who previously worked for the French Tennis Federation, explains that a great deal of physical preparation is required to face the Williams sisters because of their ability to cover the court effortlessly, their coordination, their speed, and, of course, their power.
While we all wish they could play forever, Venus and Serena will eventually move on to the next chapter in their lives and when they do, they will leave a remarkable legacy on the sport that made them legends just like Chris Evert, Martina Navratilova, Steffi Graf, Monica Seles and others who came before them. Their toughness, determination, passion, and charisma will be sorely missed when they decide to hang up their rackets. So, here’s some advice: Admire their unbelievable talent while you still can.