Before they were stars: The Williams sisters

Serena Williams and Venus Williams of the United States celebrate winning the gold medal over Virginia Ruano Pascual and Anabel Medina Garrigues of Spain in the Women's Doubles g at the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games (Photo by Clive Rose/Getty Images)
Serena Williams and Venus Williams of the United States celebrate winning the gold medal over Virginia Ruano Pascual and Anabel Medina Garrigues of Spain in the Women's Doubles g at the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games (Photo by Clive Rose/Getty Images)

Ever wondered what your favourite sports people were like before they were super-mega-famous? Every week Tokyo 2020 will give you a glimpse into what life was like for some of the world’s greatest athletes before they were stars.

The deets

  • Name: Venus and Serena Williams
  • Age: 39 and 38
  • Nationality: American
  • Profession: Tennis

What have they achieved?

Looking through the records of the Williams sisters can be a dizzying experience.

Firstly, the sisters have won a total of 30 Grand Slam titles between them. Serena has won every title at least once and is one Grand Slam away from equalling Australia's Margaret Court's record (24) for the most Grand Slam singles titles. She has also been no.1 in the world rankings for 319 weeks in total. Meanwhile, Venus has won seven Grand Slams, including five Wimbledon titles and two US Open titles.

The sisters have also played together on the doubles circuit... rather successfully. As a duo, they have won 14 Grand Slam titles.

Their record at the Olympics is also among the best ever. Between them they have won five gold medals, three in the doubles (Sydney 2000, Beijing 2008 and London 2012), and one each in the singles tournament. Venus, the oldest of the two sisters, even got a silver medal in the mixed doubles event at Rio 2016.

Many experts consider Venus and Serena to be the two greatest servers of all time. Astonishingly, both Williams sisters serve the ball faster than 205 km/h.

Surprising fact

At ages 11 and 12, Serena and Venus Williams had never played competitively. But back then, their coach Rick Macci predicted they would one day find themselves on the same court in a major final.

I think the day will come that both kids might play each other in the final of the grand slam

They first played against each other in 1998, in the second round of the Australian Open. Venus won (7-6, 6-1).

Their coach's prediction eventually came true in the final of the US Open in 2001. The two sisters were only 19 and 21 years old, and Venus won the game 6-2, 6-4.

In the end, finals between the two sisters became a classic feature of the tennis calendar. They competed nine Grand Slam finals in total, with Serena winning seven of them.

What are they up to now?

Having won just about every title possible, the Williams sisters are now considered to be two of the greatest tennis players of all time. Who would have thought that back then?

Serena is still playing tennis at a very competitive level and is currently ranked no. 9 in the world. She competed in two Grand Slam finals in 2019 - Wimbledon and the US Open. Together with Venus, she is also very engaged in the fight for women's rights and gender equality.

Venus is also still playing, but has struggled to reach her best level over the past years, in part because of the numerous injuries she has suffered. However, in 2018 she played her 1,000th games on the circuit, proving her longevity. She is now ranked no. 67 in the world.

Away from the court, Venus graduated in fashion design from the Art Institute of Fort Lauderdale and also owns an Interior Design firm. Together with Serena she owns part of the Miami Dolphins (NFL) American Football club.

The Williams Sisters at age 11 and 12
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