10 best moments of Serena Williams’ amazing tennis career: as the legend announced she’ll retire after the 2022 US Open, we look back at her 30 years of sports success

Serena Williams, pictured with her daughter Alexis Olympia Ohanian Jr. after the ASB Classic in Auckland, New Zealand, in January 2020, has said she is ready to step away from tennis after winning 23 grand slam titles, turning her focus to having another child and her business interests. Photo: Photosport via AP

Serena Williams has said she’ll retire from tennis after the 2022 US Open. In a story written for Vogue, she opened up about the difficult choice to say farewell to tennis as she expands her family, hoping to have a second child after her first daughter, Alexis Olympia Ohanian Jr., 4.

A household name among tennis fans and the public in general, the 41-year-old is bound to leave behind a shining legacy after her last match on the court.

Here’s a look back at 10 of the most iconic moments from her incredible, almost three-decade-long career.

1. Winning her first grand slam as a teenager

Serena Williams, of Palm Beach Gardens, Florida, celebrates after defeating Lindsay Davenport, of Newport Beach, California, in the women’s singles semi-finals at the US Open tennis tournament in 1999, in New York. Photo: AP Photo

Williams turned professional in 1995 at age 14 and it didn’t take her long to claim her maiden grand slam.

Serena Williams poses with her women’s singles championship trophy after defeating Martina Hingis at the US Open in New York, in 1999. Photo: AP Photo

At the 1999 US Open, the 17-year-old starlet produced an astonishing run to lift the title. She beat world No 4 Monica Seles in the quarter finals, second seed Lindsay Davenport in the semi-finals, and lastly world No 1 Martina Hingis in the final.

The same weekend, Williams also won the women’s doubles title alongside her sister, Venus.

2. Boycotting Indian Wells

Serena Williams reacts to winning a point before defeating Kim Clijsters of Belgium in their finals match at the Tennis Masters Series, in 2001, in Indian Wells, California. Photo: AP Photo

The Williams sisters are widely credited with helping change the face of tennis from a traditionally white sport to one that is more inclusive.

Forcing that change hasn’t come without its hardships for the sisters, however, most notably at Indian Wells in 2001.

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Serena Williams of the US hugs her father Richard as her sister Venus waits in the back after her victory over Kim Clijsters of Belgium during the final of the Tennis Masters Series at Indian Wells, California, in 2001. Photo: Allsport

The pair were set to meet in the semi-finals of the tournament, but when Venus withdrew with an injury and handed Serena a walkover into the final, accusations of match-fixing were made toward them and their father, Richard Williams.

Serena Williams of the United States celebrates her quarter-final victory over Lindsay Davenport of the United States at the Tennis Masters Series, in 2001, in Indian Wells, California. Photo: AFP Photo

Serena was then heavily booed in the final, while both Richard and Venus said they were racially abused by members of the crowd.

Serena won the title and instantly ran over to hug her father. The sisters subsequently boycotted the tournament for 14 years.

3. Clinching her first ‘Serena Slam’

Serena Williams gives a thumbs up as she holds her trophy after defeating her sister Venus in the women’s singles final on the Centre Court at the All England Lawn Tennis Championships at Wimbledon, in 2003. Photo: AP Photo

The 2002 French Open marked the start of an astonishing run of form for Williams.

After winning her first singles title at Roland Garros, she went on to win Wimbledon and the US Open that same year, and then the 2003 Australian Open.

Serena Williams of the US celebrates her win against Belgium’s Justine Henin-Hardenne in their semi-final match on centre court at the Wimbledon Tennis Championships in London, in 2003. Photo: Reuters

It meant Williams held all four majors at the same time without having won them all in the same calendar year – an achievement that became known as the “Serena Slam”.

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4. Returning to form to win the 2007 Australian Open

Serena Williams of the US hugs her trophy during the awards ceremony of the women’s singles final at the Australian Open tennis tournament in Melbourne, Australia, in 2007. Photo: Xinhua Photo/

Williams endured the toughest period of her playing career between late 2003 and 2007.

Dealing with the murder of her older half-sister Yetunde Price in 2003 and a string of injuries, she would spend extended periods of time away from the court and struggled for form when she was able to play.
Serena Williams of the US reacts during her semi-final match against Nicole Vaidisova of the Czech Republic at the Australian Open tennis tournament in Melbourne, in 2007. Photo: Reuters

By the 2007 Australian Open, Williams had fallen outside the WTA’s top 100, having sat out five of the previous 13 majors.

Serena Williams of the US during her quarter-finals match against Israel’s Shahar Peer at the Australian Open tennis tournament in Melbourne, in 2007. Photo: EPA

But at Melbourne Park, Williams overcame a tough draw to reach the final, where she would beat world No 1 Maria Sharapova in straight sets.

The victory saw her become the first unseeded player to win the Australian Open since Christine O’Neil in 1978.

5. Olympic glory and the ‘Golden Slam’

Gold medallists Serena Williams and Venus Williams of the United States celebrate during the medal ceremony for women’s doubles tennis on day nine of the London 2012 Olympic Games at the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club, in August 2012, in London, England. Photo: Getty Images

A career “Golden Slam” is the name given to the achievement of having won every grand slam at least once and an Olympic gold medal.

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At the 2012 London Olympics, Williams became the first and only player in history to achieve that feat in both singles and doubles.

Serena Williams plays a double-handed backhand shot during her fourth round women’s singles victory over Kazakhstan’s Yaroslava Shvedova on day seven of the 2012 Wimbledon Championships tennis tournament at the All England Tennis Club in Wimbledon, southwest London, in July 2012. Photo: AFP Photo

After sweeping the victory in the women’s doubles alongside Venus for the second consecutive games, she then dominated Sharapova in the women’s singles final.

“I have my gold medal and now I have everything,” Serena said after her singles win. “Now I have singles, doubles, actually everything there is to win in tennis.

“Where do I go from here?”

6. A second ‘Serena Slam’

Serena Williams with the 2015 Wimbledon title. Photo: AP Photo

In winning the singles title at Wimbledon for the sixth time in 2015, Williams secured the second “Serena Slam” of her career.

The four consecutive majors took her total of grand slam titles to 21, moving her one behind Steffi Graf on the Open era’s all-time leader board.

7. Winning the 2017 Australian Open while pregnant

Serena Williams holds her trophy after defeating her sister Venus during the women’s singles final at the Australian Open tennis championships in Melbourne, Australia, in January 2017. Photo: AP Photo

Williams’ victory at the 2017 Australian Open saw her claim a record 23rd career grand slam and surpass Graf’s Open era record. She won the tournament without dropping a set.

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Serena Williams follows through on a backhand return to her sister Venus during the women’s singles final at the Australian Open tennis tournament in Melbourne, Australia, in January 2017. Photo: AP Photo

More remarkable than the achievement itself, however, was the fact that Williams later revealed she was eight weeks pregnant at the time.

8. Her French Open catsuit

Serena Williams of the US gestures as she walks on court after a point against Czech Republic’s Kristyna Pliskova during their women’s singles first round match on day three of The Roland Garros 2018 French Open tennis tournament in Paris, in May 2018. Photo: AFP Photo

Williams almost died during the birth of her daughter because of an embolism.

When she made her grand slam return at the French Open, eight months after giving birth, she wore a black catsuit that was designed to help prevent blood clots.

Serena Williams, of the United States, returns a shot against Kristýna Plíšková, of the Czech Republic, during their first round match of the French Open tennis tournament at the Roland Garros stadium in Paris, in May 2018. Photo: AP Photo

She also said the suit helped her feel like a “warrior princess” from Wakanda, the fictional city from Marvel’s Black Panther movie.

The president of the French Tennis Federation later banned the outfit, saying it “wouldn’t be back” because it didn’t “respect the game and the place”.

Williams responded by playing at the US Open a few weeks later in various coloured tutus.

9. Transcending generations

Serena Williams of the US holds her daughter Alexis Olympia with the trophy following the women’s final against Jessica Pegula of the US on day seven of the 2020 Women’s ASB Classic at ASB Tennis Centre, in January 2020, in Auckland, New Zealand. Photo: Getty Images

Williams lost multiple finals, including four at Grand Slams, following her return after pregnancy.

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But in August 2020, she finally won her first title since becoming a mother when she defeated Jessica Pegula in the final of the Auckland Open.

Serena Williams of the US serves in the singles final against Jessica Pegula of the US on day seven of the 2020 Women’s ASB Classic at ASB Tennis Centre, in January 2020 in Auckland, New Zealand. Photo: Getty Images

In winning the tournament in 2020, Williams became the first woman in tennis history to win a professional tournament in four separate decades.

10. Her latest, and likely final, return

Serena Williams reacts as she plays with Tunisia’s Ons Jabeur against Spain’s Sara Sorribes Tormo and Czech Republic’s Marie Bouzkova during their women’s doubles tennis match, on day three of the Eastbourne International tennis tournament in Eastbourne, southern England, on June 21. Photo: AFP

After retiring from her first-round match at Wimbledon 2021 with an injury, Williams did not play tennis for a year.

She returned at the Eastbourne Internationals in June 2022, where she teamed up with Tunisia’s Ons Jabeur to reach the doubles semi-finals.

Williams then made her singles return at Wimbledon 2022, but crashed out in the first-round.

Serena Williams competes during the women’s singles second round match against Belinda Bencic of Switzerland at the 2022 National Bank Open tennis tournament in Toronto, Canada, on August 10. Photo: Xinhua

In August, she won her first singles match in 14 months at the National Bank Open in Toronto. The next day, she announced she would retire after the US Open.

“I’m not looking for some ceremonial, final on-court moment,” she said. “I’m terrible at goodbyes, the world’s worst,” she said in Vogue.

Serena Williams of the US acknowledges the crowd after her match against Belinda Bencic of Switzerland, during the second round of the National Bank Open women’s tennis tournament, in Toronto, Canada, on August 10. Photo: EPA-EFE

“But please know that I am more grateful for you than I can ever express in words. You have carried me to so many wins and so many trophies. I’m going to miss that version of me, that girl who played tennis. And I’m going to miss you.”

Serena Williams of the United States smiles as she leave the court after losing to Belinda Bencic of Switzerland during the National Bank Open, part of the Hologic WTA Tour, at Sobeys Stadium on August 10, in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. Photo: Getty Images/AFP

It remains to be seen if Williams can end her career with a victory at Flushing Meadows, but regardless of how she fares, she will bow out of tennis as one the sport’s greatest players of all time.

This article originally appeared on Insider
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  • Serena Williams recently announced her retirement from tennis in a Vogue piece, planning to have a second child after her daughter, Alexis Olympia Ohanian Jr
  • From achieving a ‘Golden Slam’ – winning every grand slam plus an Olympic gold medal – and victories with sister Venus, to competing while pregnant, she’s had an incredible career