One of the most celebrated professional tennis players of the early 21st century, Serena Williams entered the ranks of that sport alongside her older sister Venus. The two did so thanks to the prompting of their dad, onetime security company owner Richard Williams, who had apparently witnessed the astronomical salaries given tennis players and promptly ushered two of his daughters onto the courts after learning the sport himself via instructional videos. The gambit paid off, as each Williams girl battled her way to the very pinnacle of the tennis leagues and earned the number one spot. Serena's records included winning eight Grand Slam singles titles and the Australian Open, and netting an Olympic gold medal in women's doubles, and she also made international headlines by signing a 40-million-dollar endorsement contract with Reebok -- one of the highest such contracts in all of women's sports at the time of its finalization. Serena later began an acting career, with television appearances on such series as The Simpsons (2001), Law & Order: Special Victims Unit (2004), and ER (2005). She also was a stockcar-driving participant in the competitive reality series Fast Cars & Superstars (2007), in which she squared off against John Elway and Laird Hamilton.
Biography by Nathan Southern
- At age 14, became a tennis pro.
- In 1999, won the U.S. Open women's singles title and became the first black woman to win a Grand Slam professional tennis tournament since Althea Gibson in 1958.
- Faced sister Venus in the final of the 1999 Lipton Championships, making it the first time since 1884 that two sisters had faced each other in the final of a pro event (Venus won).
- Won gold medals in women's doubles at the 2000, 2008 and 2012 Summer Olympics with sister Venus; also has a individual gold in women's singles from the 2012 Games.
- Completed the "Serena Slam" by winning four straight Grand Slam events in 2002 (French Open, Wimbledon, U.S. Open) and 2003 (Australian Open), beating sister Venus in all four finals.
- Starred with Venus in the reality TV series Venus and Serena: For Real, which debuted in 2005.
- Has designed clothing for Puma, Nike and her own fashion line, Aneres (her name spelled backwards).
- Owns a small stake in the Miami Dolphins franchise.