When it comes to winning tennis titles, Serena Williams smokes the competition. Not only has she been named the number one female tennis player in the world on six separate occasions, she also holds the most major titles in singles, doubles and mixed doubles combined–and that’s including both male and female athletes.
It’s impossible to mention Serena Williams without bringing up her sister, Venus, who is equally impressive. Together, the two of them managed to lock down all four Grand Slam women’s doubles titles at the same time. They are the most recent team to do so.
It’s not just tennis that has made Serena an unstoppable force, however. For her, that’s been a launching off platform to prove herself a valuable role model and to help usher in a new era of strong female athletes.
Serena and her sister Venus have paved a path for female athletes to become superstars. In a recent interview with rapper Common, Serena opened up about shouldering the weight of being a role model. Of course, for her it was all handled with positivity.
“When I started out, I never though, ‘I want to open up doors for black athletes, and then to female athletes.’ I ended up on this path and people started looking up to me and it was different, because I was like, ‘I’m just doing me,'” she said.
Serena Williams also spoke up on working through negative comments about her figure. “There was a time when I didn’t feel incredibly comfortable about my body because I felt like I was too strong,” she said. I had to take a second and think, ‘Who says I’m too strong?’ This body has enabled me to be the greatest player that I can be.”
And great, she is. The 35-year-old tennis champ kicked off her professional career in the mid-1990s and has been steadily building her reputation through both training discipline and insane natural talent. Though a shoulder injury has been keeping her conservative with her competitions lately, it was just a couple months ago that she tied a record for longest run as the number one in the Women’s Tennis Association rankings with a total of 186 consecutive weeks.