Serena Jameka Williams (born September 26, 1981) is an American professional tennis player. The Women's Tennis Association (WTA) has ranked her world number one in singles on seven occasions, from 2002 to 2017. She became the world number one for the first time on July 8, 2002, and achieved this ranking for the eighth time on April 24, 2017. On the sixth occasion, she held the ranking for 186 consecutive weeks, tying the record set by Steffi Graf for the most consecutive weeks as world number one by a female tennis player. In total, she has been world number one for 317 weeks, which ranks her 3rd in the Open Era among female tennis players. Williams' accomplishments and success in professional tennis have led some commentators, players, and sports writers to regard her as the greatest female tennis player of all time.
Williams holds the most major titles in singles, doubles, and mixed doubles combined amongst active players. Her record of 39 major titles puts her third on the all-time list and second in the open era: 23 in singles, 14 in women's doubles, and 2 in mixed doubles. She is the most recent female player to have held all four major singles titles simultaneously (2002–03 and 2014–15) and the third player to achieve this record twice after Rod Laver and Steffi Graf. She is also the most recent player, together with her sister Venus Williams, to have held all four Grand Slam women's doubles titles simultaneously (2009–10).
Her total of 23 Grand Slam singles titles marks the record for the most Major wins by a tennis player in the Open Era, and is second on the all-time list behind Margaret Court (24). She is the only tennis player in history (man or woman) to have won singles titles at least six times in three of the four Grand Slam tournaments, and the only player ever to have won two of the four Majors seven times each (seven Wimbledon titles and seven Australian Open titles). She is also the only tennis player to have won 10 Grand Slam singles titles in two separate decades. She has won an all-time record of 13 Grand Slam singles titles on hardcourt. Williams holds the Open Era record for most titles won at the Australian Open (7) and shares the Open Era record for most titles won at the US Open with Chris Evert (6). She also holds an all-time record for the most singles matches won at the Grand Slams (man or woman) with 316 matches (through the 2017 Australian Open).
She has won 14 Grand Slam doubles titles with her sister Venus, and the pair are unbeaten in Grand Slam doubles finals. As a team, she and Venus have the third most women's doubles grand slam titles, behind the 18 titles of Natasha Zvereva (14 with Gigi Fernández) and the record 20 titles won by Martina Navratilova and Pam Shriver. Williams is also a five-time winner of the WTA Tour Championships in the singles division. Serena has also won four Olympic gold medals, one in women's singles and three in women's doubles—an all-time record shared with her sister, Venus. The arrival of the Williams sisters has been credited with ushering in a new era of power and athleticism on the women's professional tennis tour. Williams was the highest paid female athlete in 2016, earning $28.9 million in prize money and endorsements. She has won the Laureus Sportswoman of the Year award three times (2003, 2010, 2016), and in December 2015, she was named Sportsperson of the Year by Sports Illustrated magazine.
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