Serena Williams announced in Vogue that her appearance at this year’s U.S. Open will be her last. Though her time on the tennis court is nearly over, the historic moments she amassed over 25 years of dominating the sport will live on forever.
Here’s a look at the top five moments of Williams’ legendary career.
Williams’ first career Grand Slam singles titleWilliams secured her first of many Grand Slam Singles titles at the U.S. Open in 1999.Getty Images
Williams secured her first of many Grand Slam singles titles at the U.S. Open in 1999, just one year after she had begun competing on the tour. She knocked off defending champion Lindsay Davenport in the semifinals. Upon advancing to her first major final, Williams faced off against world No. 1 Martina Hingis, who defeated Venus Williams in the semifinals. She did her older sister justice, besting Hingis in straight sets to become the second black woman since Althea Gibson in 1958 to earn a Grand Slam singles title.
Indian Wells, 2001Williams took the court in the extremely hostile environment of the 2001 Indian Wells tournament.Getty
Williams’ signature perseverance and ability to handle immense adversity were on full display when she took the court in the extremely hostile environment of the 2001 Indian Wells tournament. When the highly anticipated semifinal bout between Venus and Serena was canceled due to Venus’ tendonitis injury, their father, Richard Williams, was accused of fixing the match. What followed next was an ugly display as a stadium packed with predominantly white fans rained boos down on the Williams family as Serena competed in the final. Though she was able to win the title by defeating Kim Clijsters, Williams boycotted the event for 14 years after the inhospitable experience.
“This haunted me for a long time,” Williams said of that tournament in a 2015 “Time” op-ed. “It haunted Venus and our family as well. But most of all, it angered and saddened my father. He dedicated his whole life to prepping us for this incredible journey, and there he had to sit and watch his daughter being taunted, sparking cold memories of his experiences growing up in the South.”
The First “Serena Slam”Williams’ first “Serena Slam,” came to fruition in 2002-’03.Getty
Williams pulled off this unbelievable accomplishment in 2002-’03. On the heels of securing the French Open, Wimbledon and U.S. Open trophies in dominant fashion, Williams took on Venus at the Australian Open with a chance at becoming just the fifth woman to hold all four major titles at once – and the first since Steffi Graf in 1994. The highly contested sibling match came down to the wire over three sets, with Serena emerging victorious. The Williams sisters soon after secured their sixth Grand Slam doubles title in Melbourne.
Williams’ powerful Australian Open comebackWilliams’ victory at the 2007 Australian Open remains one of the most improbable and hard-fought accomplishments of her long career.Getty
Williams’ victory at the 2007 Australian Open remains one of the most improbable and hard-fought accomplishments of her long career. Not long after defending her Wimbledon title for the second consecutive time in 2003, Williams’ strong campaign was derailed by a knee injury that sidelined her for the rest of the year. As she recovered from the disheartening setback, her older half-sister and former personal assistant Yetunde Price was shot and killed in their hometown of Compton, Calif. What ensued for Williams was waves of depression through the mid-2000s as she attempted to cope with the loss and the multitude of injuries she continued to sustain. The tennis star returned to the Australian Open in 2007 looking to retake her dominant form and did just that, defeating rival Maria Sharapova in the final 6-1, 6-2. She showed no signs of slowing down afterwards, either, going on to win the U.S. Open in 2008 as well as the Australian Open and Wimbledon in 2009.
Williams’ Australian Open victory while pregnantWilliams defeated Venus in the finals of the 2017 Australian Open without losing a single set in the tournament.Getty
Williams defeated Venus in the finals of the 2017 Australian Open without losing a single set in the tournament, thus earning her 23rd Grand Slam singles title and breaking Steffi Graf’s prior Open Era record of 22. Albeit two impressive feats, the real kicker came several months later, when Williams, then 35, revealed she was eight weeks pregnant during the contest. After missing the remainder of the season, Williams gave birth to a daughter in September of that year, who she named Alexis Olympia Ohanian Jr.