No.1 Spotlight: Venus Williams
Published June 18, 2013 12:00
From the moment she started learning the game on the pothole-ridden municipal courts of one of L.A.'s less salubrious suburbs, Venus Williams has been defying the odds. In a notoriously middle-class sport, Williams emerged from a distinctly non-middle-class background to become a 21st-century tennis icon.
After pushing World No.2 Arantxa Sánchez-Vicario to three sets in her very first tournament, it was clear the lithe and athletic teenager was headed for the very top. At 17 she became the first unseeded player in the Open Era to reach the US Open final and although she came up short against Martina Hingis, she would not have to wait long to triumph on the biggest stage.
In 2000, after a number of other near misses, Williams defeated her three great rivals, Hingis, her sister Serena and Lindsay Davenport, to capture the Wimbledon title. She ended a golden summer with victory at the US Open, defending both titles 12 months later to underline her status as one of the game's modern greats.
Over the following decade, despite several major setbacks on and off the court, Williams has maintained her place at the WTA's summit, winning three further Wimbledon titles.
• Has won seven Grand Slam singles titles, including five Wimbledons
• Among her 44 career WTA singles titles are the 2000 Summer Olympics and the 2008 WTA Championships, where she became the third player to defeat the Top 3 players in the world at the same event
• Among her 21 WTA doubles titles are 13 Grand Slams and three Olympic golds (all with sister Serena, with whom she is 13-0 in Grand Slam finals and has the third-most Grand Slams by a duo in the Open Era). Also has two mixed doubles Grand Slam titles (both with Justin Gimelstob)
• Is one of three women to win a gold medal in both singles and doubles in the same year at the Olympics (2000 Sydney). Also achieved by Helen Wills in 1924 and Serena Williams in 2012
• Ascended to World No.1 for first time on February 25, 2002, becoming the first African-American to achieve that feat. On June 10, 2002, No.1 Venus and No.2 Serena became first siblings to occupy Top 2 in the rankings at the same time. Also ascended to joint doubles No.1 alongside Serena on June 7, 2010
• Her 35-match win streak in 2000 is the longest of the 21st century
• Her win over Serena Williams in the 2001 US Open final was the first time two sisters played each other in a Grand Slam final since the Watson sisters at 1884 Wimbledon
• Her 13 career wins over reigning World No.1s is fourth-most all-time
• Trails only sister Serena for most prize money won in WTA history
• Her 632 match wins is tied for 10th-most of the Open Era
• Her 129-mph serve at the 2007 US Open is the fastest-recorded WTA serve on record, according to data compiled by IDS
• Won WTA's Most Impressive Newcomer Award in 1997
• Won WTA's Player Of The Year Award in 2000
• Won WTA's Doubles Team Of The Year alongside sister Serena in 2000 and 20009
• Won WTA's Peachy Kellmeyer Player Service Award in 2012