On Friday Sept. 2, 2022, Serena Williams completed her final tennis match of her career at New York City’s Arthur Ashe Stadium.
Williams announced her plans about a month ago to hang up her racket after she competed in the 2022 U.S. Open. Since then, discussions on her being considered the Greatest of All Time (GOAT) of women’s tennis have reemerged.
With an average of 4.2 million viewers watching her final match over the two time slots on ESPN, Serena Williams’ last match was the most-viewed tennis broadcast in the history of the network. However, viewership of her last match is hardly the only reason why Williams is on all of our minds.
Let’s dive into why Serena Williams is known as the GOAT women’s tennis player.
1. Williams Wins
Williams won 850 single matches in her over two decades of pro tennis competition. Three hundred and sixty of these were during Grand Slam play.
She also holds 8th place overall in womens tennis records with 73 single titles.
2. Golden at the Olympic Games
Playing alongside older sister Venus Williams, Serena and Venus won three gold medals in the Games of 2000, 2008, and 2012. This is an all-time record.
Serena Williams went on to win both the singles and women’s doubles gold in 2012, making her the third woman ever to hold both Olympic Champion titles at a single Olympic Games.
FACT: Venus Williams is the second ever woman to do so, winning both the singles gold and womens doubles gold in 2000 at the sisters’ first Olympic Games.
3. The “Serena Slam”
The Serena Slam (noun): a tennis player who is the reigning champion of all the major tournaments at the same time, but not all occurred in the same tennis season/calendar year.
Named after herself, Williams completed the Serena Slam twice in her career. The first time was after winning the French Open in 2002 and then going on to win every other Slam up until the Australian Open in 2003. The second time was when she won the 2014 U.S. Open and won every other Slam up until Wimbledon in 2015.
4. Staying Ranked at No. 1
For those who don’t know much about professional tennis, staying ranked at no. 1 is quite the feat (and not an easy calculation to understand either!).
In total, Williams spent 319 weeks ranked at no. 1 in her career. Her longest streak of consecutive weeks holding this elusive no. 1 spot? 189. That’s over 3 ½ years!
5. Most Grand Slam Wins in the Open Era
Twenty-three to be exact.
Although she does not hold the most grand slam wins ever–that record belongs to Margaret Court with 24–Williams is the only tennis player in the Open Era of tennis to hold 23 Grand Slam titles.
FACT: The “Open Era” began in 1968, which is when both amateurs and professionals were allowed to compete in the Grand Slam Tournaments. Before ‘68, only amateurs were allowed to!
Additionally, with teammate and sister Venus, the Williams sisters hold 14 women’s doubles Slam titles. They completed each of these titles holding a perfect 14-0 win streak at every Grand Slam final they competed in.
FACT: The Williams sisters are the only women to play each other in singles competition in four straight Grand Slam finals. Serena won all four.
Serena Williams also competed in mixed doubles in 1998-1999 with partners Luis Lobo and Max Mirnyi. She and Mirnyi won two Slam titles for this discipline, Wimbledon and the U.S. Open in 1998.
In total, Serena holds a whopping 39 major titles and is the only tennis player to win 10 Grand Slams in two different decades.
All in all, there are many other reasons why Serena Williams is the name that comes to everyone’s mind when talking about women’s tennis, or even tennis in general. Her presence in the sports world extended way past the tennis court, onto the red carpet and covers of magazines, and into the hearts of so many sports fans–inspiring people all over the world to strive for their dreams.
Although we understand why her career has come to an end, she will certainly go down in the history books for decades to come and continue to inspire little girls everywhere to never shy away from their dreams, in sports and beyond.