Serena Williams, (born September 26, 1981, Saginaw, Michigan, U.S.), American tennis player who revolutionized women’s tennis with her powerful style of play and who won more Grand Slam singles titles (23) than any other woman or man during the open era (1968– ).
Williams learned tennis from her father on the public courts in Los Angeles and turned professional in 1995, one year after her sister Venus. Possessing powerful serves and ground strokes and superb athleticism, the sisters soon attracted much attention. Many predicted Venus would be the first Williams sister to win a Grand Slam singles title, but it was Serena who accomplished the feat, winning the 1999 U.S. Open.
At the 2000 Olympic Games in Sydney, Australia, Serena and Venus won gold medals in the doubles event. After several years of inconsistent play, Serena asserted herself in 2002 and won the French Open, the U.S. Open, and Wimbledon, defeating Venus in the finals of each tournament. Known for her fierce tenacity, Serena won the Australian Open in 2003 and thus completed a career Grand Slam by having won all four of the slam’s component tournaments. Later that year she was also victorious at Wimbledon; both of her Grand Slam wins in 2003 came after she had bested her sister in the finals. In 2005 Serena won the Australian Open again. Beset by injury the following year, she rebounded in 2007 to win her third Australian Open. Serena and Venus won their second doubles tennis gold medal at the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing. Later that year Serena won the U.S. Open for a third time. In 2009 she captured her 10th Grand Slam singles title by winning the Australian Open. Later that year she won her third Wimbledon singles title, once again defeating her sister. Serena defended her titles at the Australian Open and Wimbledon in 2010. She subsequently battled various health issues that kept her off the court for almost a year.
In 2012 she captured her fifth Wimbledon singles title. A month later at the London Olympic Games, Serena won a gold medal in the singles event, becoming the second woman (behind Steffi Graf) to win a career Golden Slam. She also teamed with Venus to win the doubles event. Later that year Serena claimed her 15th Grand Slam singles title with a victory at the U.S. Open. In 2013 she won her second French Open singles championship and fifth U.S. Open singles title. Williams successfully defended her U.S. Open championship in 2014, which gave her 18 career Grand Slam titles, tying her with Chris Evert and Martina Navratilova for the second highest women’s singles total of the open era. The following year she captured her sixth Australian Open. Williams then won the 2015 French Open—her 20th total Grand Slam singles championship. She continued her torrid streak at Wimbledon, winning a straight-set final to capture her sixth career Wimbledon singles title. Williams again won Wimbledon in 2016, giving her 22 career Grand Slam singles titles, which tied her with Graf for the most Slams in the open era for both women and men. Williams broke Graf’s record at the 2017 Australian Open, where she defeated her sister Venus in the final. In April of that year, Williams announced that she was pregnant (she had gotten engaged in December 2016) and would miss the remainder of the 2017 season.
In 2009 her autobiography, On the Line (cowritten with Daniel Paisner), was published.
He has played two Grand Slam events, the Australian Open and Wimbledon, and won them both, increasing his record total of major men’s singles titles to 19.
Two of his biggest rivals, Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray, have unexpectedly faded, while Federer has continued to perform in Technicolor. This year he has a 31-2 record, including an 9-0 mark against top-10 players. He is 17-5 in tiebreakers, reflecting his seize-the-key-moment approach.
He is still ripping his backhand; still finding the corners of the box with his serve (he was not broken on Sunday); and, perhaps most important, still covering the court like a younger version of himself.
“I honestly didn’t think I was going to be able to run through top-10 players the way I am, win all these breakers, win all these big moments,” said Federer, who will turn 36 next month. “This is what’s made the difference for me. I’ve won all the big matches this year. It’s unbelievable.”
When Federer returned to the tour in January after a six-month layoff, he genuinely believed he would not peak until April. But having a fine chance at Wimbledon was always part of the plan and motivation for heading back on the road with his wife, Mirka, and their four young children.
Wimbledon was the big goal. It is Federer’s favorite tournament, the one that suits his elegant, attacking game and his personality best; the one where he made his first big career move by upsetting the seven-time champion Pete Sampras in the 2001 round of 16. It is also the one where Federer won his first Grand Slam singles title, in 2003.
On Sunday, he broke his tie with Sampras and the 19th-century player William Renshaw by becoming the first man to win eight Wimbledon singles titles. (Martina Navratilova won the women’s event nine times.)
Federer said the men’s record was not a number he had in his sights when he was young.
“Winning eight is not something you can ever aim for, in my opinion,” he said. “If you do, I don’t know, you must have so much talent and parents and the coaches that push you from the age of 3 on, who think of you like a project. I was not that kid. I was just really a normal guy growing up in Basel, hoping to make a career on the tennis tour.”
He did eventually leave his home and his parents in his early teens to board at a tennis center in a French-speaking region of Switzerland. He struggled there emotionally for a time, but it turned out to be one of the many decisions that led him to become the champion that he is.
He made another right move before this Wimbledon, skipping the clay-court season and the French Open, which Rafael Nadal won for the 10th time, to be fresh and healthy for the grass.
It is perhaps no coincidence that two of Federer’s younger opponents — Alexandr Dolgopolov in the first round and Cilic in the final — were hampered by physical problems, while Federer remained pain free, even if he did have to battle a summer cold throughout the event.
Cilic, 28 and seeded No. 7, overwhelmed Federer in the semifinals of the 2014 United States Open en route to the title. Cilic also had three match points against Federer in the Wimbledon quarterfinals last year before Federer prevailed in five sets.
An epic match on Sunday would have been no surprise. Instead, Cilic struggled with his consistency and his emotions. With a deep blister on his left foot that he said had limited his lateral movement, he began sobbing in his chair on a changeover while trailing, 0-3, in the second set, putting a white towel over his head as a physician and a trainer huddled around and attended to him.
He later explained that the tears were a result not of the pain but of the realization that he would be unable to perform at his best.
“Obviously, was very tough emotionally, because I know how much I went through the last few months in preparation with everything,” Cilic said. “It was also tough because of my own team. They did so much for me. I just felt it was really bad luck.”
He eventually returned to the court, receiving a roar of support from the Centre Court crowd. He then changed his tactics to serve-and-volley to avoid long, grinding rallies and preserve his foot. He held serve with an acrobatic backhand half-volley drop-shot winner to stop a Federer streak of five consecutive games.
But there was no halting Federer’s momentum even if Federer, unbeknown to his audience, was harboring a few doubts. “At two sets to love and 2-all, I was thinking I’m going to lose this set, because I have never won Wimbledon without losing a set,” he said.
But in this charmed season, not even negative thinking can stop the Federer juggernaut, and he eventually closed out the match with an ace. This time, there was no celebratory tumble to the grass, as in 2007 or 2012. Compared with the euphoria of this year’s Australian Open triumph, the sensation and his immediate reaction were more subdued.
“I agree,” Federer said, still walking in the corridors. “Australia was a totally different vibe. It was so unexpected. Here I was made the favorite already before the tournament, which I found quite strange, and then that sometimes unfortunately takes the edge away a little bit.”
There were still powerful emotions at work, and he was soon in tears of his own as he sat in his chair and looked in the direction of the players’ box, where his 3-year-old twin sons had joined his 7-year-old twin daughters.
Federer has shed plenty of tears of joy on Centre Court, but this moment caught him by surprise.
“That was really the first moment I had to myself out there,” he said. “And I guess that’s when it sunk in that, man, I was able to win Wimbledon again, and I broke a record, and my family is there to share it with me. I was hoping the boys were going to be there, too, not just the girls. And so I just felt so happy, and I guess I also realized how much I had put into it to be there. It was all those things together.”
So much does indeed have to go just right to win eight titles at a tennis temple like the All England Club — to produce a player like Federer who is built to win pretty but also built to last.Continue reading the main story
An article on Monday about Roger Federer’s victory at Wimbledon misstated the round in which Roger Federer upset Pete Sampras at Wimbledon in 2001. It was the round of 16, not the quarterfinal.