Former No.1 Serena Williams was honored at the 54th annual NAACP Image Awards for both her legendary on-court achievements as well as her impactful off-court legacy. The 23-time major champion received the Jackie Robinson Sports Award at the NAACP Image Awards on Saturday, Feb. 25.
The Jackie Robinson Sports Award is presented to individuals in sports for their high achievement in athletics as well as their contributions in the pursuit of social justice, civil rights and community involvement. Previous recipients include Stephen Curry, LeBron James, Michael Jordan, Magic Johnson, Wilma Rudolph and the Harlem Globetrotters.
“Serena Williams is the quintessential example of Black excellence,” NAACP president and CEO Derrick Johnson said. “From her record-breaking wins on the tennis court to her business acumen to her philanthropic endeavors, she has set the bar for athletes everywhere. We are proud to honor and celebrate her with this year’s Jackie Robinson Sports Award.”
Serena first ascended to WTA World No.1 as a 20-year-old in 2002 and went on to spend 319 non-consecutive weeks in the top spot, including a record-tying 186-consecutive week streak. She won 73 singles titles on the Hologic WTA Tour, including an Open Era record 23 major titles. Williams played her final match last fall at the 2022 US Open, closing the book on her historic 25-year career.
“I would like to thank the NAACP, which continues to accelerate change within important areas such as healthcare, education, sports, the economy, and much more,” Williams said. “The tireless efforts of your organization are making a big difference in the lives of African Americans today and tomorrow.
“I’d also like to thank the Image Awards and the Hollywood Bureau for honoring me with the Jackie Robinson Award tonight. Still a little incredible for me. I am super humbled. Thank you. I’m incredibly humbled to be amongst the greatest names in today’s culture, celebrating those who promote equity through creative endeavors.”
This year's NAACP Image Awards were held in Pasadena, California, and hosted by Queen Latifah.