Tennis

How Long Has Serena Williams Been Playing Tennis?

At the U.S. Open, Serena Williams suffered a loss. A loss the 37-year-old would have dearly loved to win. The runner-up to this year’s U.S. Open revealed a humbler-side of herself following her 6-3, 7-5 faux pas┬áto Canada’s Bianca Andreescu.

“I think this was the worst match I’ve played all tournament,” she said following the tourney. “It’s inexcusable to play at that level.”

If she had won, she would have tied for the most Grand Slam singles women’s titles ever at 24. That record dates back to the early ’70s and is held by Australian Margaret Smith Court. With Serena Williams on the verge of this record, it’s fair to ask just how long has she been playing tennis?

Serena Williams’ early years

At the tender age of 3, Serena started playing tennis, following in the footsteps of her older sister, Venus. It wasn’t for fun. Their father, Richard Williams, wanted his daughters to succeed in the game. He read every book and watched every video he could find in order to coach his young daughters. They practiced two hours per day, even at that young age, following their home-schooling.

A few years later, he moved his family from California to West Palm Beach, Florida so his daughters could attend Rick Macci‘s tennis academy and receive additional coaching from outside of the family.

While both Serena and Venus had participated in many junior tournaments, their father didn’t push it too hard. He wanted them to develop slowly. But, once Serena got into her mid-teens, there was no slowing her down.

When did Serna Williams turn pro?

Serena Williams turned pro at 14. Because of their natural talent, and their early instruction in the game, the sisters were drawing a lot of U.S. and worldwide attention by this time. And, while she made it to her first U.S. Open match in 1998, it was a year later, at the age of 17, when she won her first Grand Slam match in the Australian Open.

The following year she won singles at the U.S. Open, and alongside her sister, they also took the doubles title that year.

In total Serena Williams has amassed 23 singles titles. In 2002, she won the French Open, U.S. Open, and Wimbledon, each time prevailing against her sister, Venus, in the finals. But, Serena Williams’ years on the court have not come without controversy, nor injury.

Williams has become known for some of her outrages against officials including one 10 years ago, for which she was not only fined at the time but also was placed on two years of probation and levied $82,500 by the Grand Slam Committee.

In 2011, a pulmonary embolism, blood clot, was found in one Williams’ lungs. She also had a hematoma removed. And, she has had the customary problems related to playing the sport including knee problems, and recent back issues.

Two years ago, she gave birth to her first child, daughter Alexis Olympia Ohanian, by C-section, complicated by another pulmonary embolism leaving her bed-ridden for six weeks.

Olympic gold

Serena Williams has played in four Olympics in 2000, 2008, 2012, and 2016. She had to sit out in 2004, due to a knee injury. Alongside her sister, the Williams girls won doubles gold in 2000, 2008, and 2012, though they slumped down to only silver 2016, losing in the first round to Lucie Safarova and Barbora Strycova of the Czech Republic.

Gold in the singles, however, eluded Serena until 2012’s London Games. It was there she beat out Russian Maria Sharapova, who earned the silver.

Achievements & accolades

All-in-all, Serena Williams has earned more than $90.5 million in winnings, for which she ranks highest in women’s all-time earnings. She currently ranks ninth in the WTA standings.

Her pro career has spanned over 20 years and she shows no signs of slowing down soon. Serena Williams has been playing tennis her whole life and shows no signs of stopping anytime soon.