This year, at the ripe age of 35, Serena Williams has won her 23rd Grand Slam singles match in Australia, earning the title of most Grand Slam singles victories in history. According to ESPN, she is now just one title away, behind Margaret Court, from having the most Grand Slams of any kind in tennis history. Being one of the most winningest athletes in all of sports history, Williams has a lesson to teach us all this Black History Month: there are no barriers that you cannot break down to reach equality.
In addition to her 2017 Australian Open title, she partnered with other renowned African American celebrities in a campaign sponsored by Nike to spread racial equality. “Equality has no boundaries”, says actor Michael B. Jordan, who was chosen to do the voiceover for the ads. This campaign began at the beginning of February, marking a strong start for Black History Month.
According to the Encyclopedia Britannica, Williams’s story in the professional sport’s world began in 1995, just a year after her sister, Venus, became pro in the same sport. Williams immediately got attention for her powerful serves and incredible strength. Four years after becoming pro, she won her first major contest, the 1999 U.S Open against Martina Hingis.
According to ESPN, her victory over Hingis began a streak of phenomenal success, and many believed no one could derail her. In the 2000 Olympics, Williams and her sister dominated the tennis world, grasping gold in the doubles event. Just two years later, she clenched victory in the French Open, U.S Open and Wimbledon, rising above her sister in all finals matches.
A year later, after she won the Australian Open, she completed a career Grand Slam, by winning all four major tournaments. However, her success did not end there. She continued to win the most prestigious tennis contests throughout her 21 years as a professional player. Among her top achievements include five Wimbledon singles titles, multiple gold medal victories in the Olympic Games and championship titles in the French, Australian and U.S Opens.
In many ways, Williams has made substantial strides for African Americans, especially female African Americans, in the world of sports. She and her sister, Venus Williams, have dominated the tennis world for the past decade.
Together, they have broken down barriers of inequality, injustice and discrimination by showing the world that African American women hold their own among the strongest, most talented and most successful athletes in the world. This month gives us all a chance to honor her, and many others like her, for the resilience and strength she radiates on and off of the field.