- Serena Williams is set to retire from tennis after this year’s US Open.
- She’ll leave the sport as a legend and the most decorated player of the Open era.
- Here are 10 of the most iconic moments from her incredible career.
Winning her first Grand Slam as a teenager
Williams turned professional in 1995 at age 14 and it didn’t take her long to claim her maiden Grand Slam.
At the 1999 US Open, the 17-year-old starlet produced an astonishing run to lift the title. She beat world No. 4 Monica Seles in the quarterfinals, second seed Lindsey Davenport in the semifinals, and lastly world No. 1 Martina Hingis in the final.
The same weekend, Williams also won the women’s doubles title alongside her sister, Venus.
Boycotting Indian Wells
The Williams’ sisters are widely credited with helping change the face of tennis from a traditionally white sport to one that is more inclusive.
Forcing that change hasn’t come without its hardships for the sisters, however, most notably at Indian Wells in 2001.
The pair were set to meet in the semifinals of the tournament, but when Venus withdrew with injury and handed Serena a walkover into the final, accusations of match-fixing were made toward them and their father and Richard Williams.
Serena was then heavily booed in the final, while both Richard and Venus said they were racially abused by members of the crowd.
Serena won the title and instantly ran over to hug her father. The sisters subsequently boycotted the tournament for 14 years.
Clinching her first “Serena Slam”
The 2002 French Open marked the start of an astonishing run of form for Williams.
After winning her first singles title at Roland Garros, she went on to win Wimbledon and the US Open that same year, and then the 2003 Australian Open.
It meant Williams held all four majors at the same time without having won them all in the same calendar year — an achievement that became known as the “Serena Slam.”
Returning to form to win the 2007 Australian Open
Williams endured the toughest period of her playing career between late 2003 and 2007.
Dealing with the murder of her older half-sister Yetunde Price in 2003 and a string of injuries, she would spend extended periods of time away from the court and struggled for form when she was able to play.
By the 2007 Australian Open, Williams had fallen outside of the WTA’s top 100, having sat out five of the previous 13 majors.
But at Melbourne Park, Williams overcame a tough draw to reach the final, where she would beat world No. 1 Maria Sharapova in straight sets.
The victory saw her become the first unseeded player to win the Australian Open since Christine O’Neil in 1978.
Olympic glory and the “Golden Slam”
A career “Golden Slam” is the name given to the achievement of having won every Grand Slam at least once and an Olympic gold medal.
At the 2012 London Olympics, Williams became the first and only player in history to achieve that feat in both singles and doubles.
After sweeping the victory in the women’s doubles alongside Venus for the second consecutive games, she then dominated Sharapova in the women’s singles final.
“I have my gold medal and now I have everything,” Serena said after her singles win. “Now I have singles, doubles, actually everything there is to win in tennis.
“Where do I go from here?”
A second “Serena Slam”
In winning the singles title at Wimbledon for the sixth time in 2015, Williams secured the second “Serena Slam” of her career.
The four consecutive majors took her total of Grand Slam titles to 21, moving her one behind Steffi Graf on the Open era’s all-time leaderboard.
Winning the 2017 Australian Open while pregnant
Williams’ victory at the 2017 Australian Open saw her claim a record 23rd career Grand Slam and surpass Graf’s Open era record.
She won the tournament without dropping a set.
More remarkable than the achievement itself, however, was the fact that Williams later revealed she was eight weeks pregnant at the time.
Williams lost multiple finals, including four at Grand Slams, following her return after pregnancy.
But in August 2020, she finally won her first title since becoming a mother when she defeated Jessica Pegula in the final of the Auckland Open.
In winning the tournament in 2020, Williams became the first woman in tennis history to win a professional tournament in four separate decades.
Her latest, and likely final, return
After retiring from her first-round match at Wimbledon 2021 with injury, Williams did not play tennis for a year.
She returned at the Eastbourne Internationals in June 2022, where she teamed up with Tunisia’s Ons Jabeur to reach the doubles semifinals.
Williams then made her singles return at Wimbledon 2022, but crashed out in the first-round.
In August, she won her first singles match in 14 months at the National Bank Open in Toronto. The next day, she announced she would retire after the US Open.
“I’m not looking for some ceremonial, final on-court moment,” she said. “I’m terrible at goodbyes, the world’s worst,” she said in Vogue.
“But please know that I am more grateful for you than I can ever express in words. You have carried me to so many wins and so many trophies. I’m going to miss that version of me, that girl who played tennis. And I’m going to miss you.”
It remains to be seen if Williams can end her career with a victory at Flushing Meadows, but regardless of how she fares, she will bow out of tennis as one the sport’s greatest players of all time.