Serena Williams ‘paved the way’ for mothers to keep playing tennis, says Martina Navratilova
The US Open is not Williams’ first big event. She’s already played another one, the Australian Open, which she won in 2003 and has since made two other finals. Now it’s her second time playing in this tournament, albeit on her way to winning another Grand Slam in 2006. But that’s not why she’s at SW19. She’s there to celebrate her 18th birthday on Sunday – she turns 19 the day after – and she hopes to follow up her Australian Open win with another title in the United States. What’s she got to celebrate? A lot more than a grand slam title. Serena Williams has always had a knack for coming up with a clever line to put on her trophy when she wins at Wimbledon. “The way I win is by winning the match, not the trophy,” she said Tuesday night at the WTA Finals in Indian Wells. And she’s not alone:
Serena Williams is a rare example – one of the handful of athletes in American sports history who have achieved greatness from sport while also making a life-defining contribution to other aspects of society.
Serena Williams on how she has combined her personal success with her love for tennis
She has been a hero of the African-American community, even winning an award from the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People on behalf of a civil rights group. She has also served as an ambassador for the United Negro College Fund, helping to raise almost $400,000 for the program for the third time in her career. She helped start a program to fight AIDS in Africa and has made appearances to benefit children in Africa, Asia and Latin America who are being affected by war, genocide or disease.
She also has a lot of other things to celebrate – like being an Olympic champion, which is not something she thinks about much. But it doesn’t hurt that she became a national figure in women’s tennis in 2003, winning both the Australian Open and Wimbledon titles as a 21-year-old. She went on to win her first Grand Slam at the US Open in 2005.
What Serena Williams has done in her career so far can now be measured against what she is doing in her life, when she becomes a mother