See how Serena Williams became one of the all-time greats at the US Open. (Published Thursday, Jul 25, 2012)
The Serena Williams story goes beyond just her extraordinary talent.
Williams has a unique relationship with fans because of her upbringing and upbringing has shaped how she views the world. It’s that perspective that makes her one of the most influential figures in tennis, and her life story is the inspiration for this week’s Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue.
Williams has been at Wimbledon in Wimbledon Gardens since 1986 and has competed in every major golf tournament there, plus the US Open. She is the only woman to win an Australian Open title in the Open Era, which started in 1968. And she is also the only American to have won more Grand Slam tournaments than Roger Federer — 17.
But what many people do not know is that her passion for tennis began at a very young age.
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At the age of three, Williams began taking lessons to learn to play tennis by herself.
“I really wanted to play tennis with my dad because I loved it,” she told The Guardian (UK), when asked to explain her motivation. “But he played golf every other day. And he said, ‘Serena, if I’m in the garden when you’re hitting balls, why aren’t you playing?’ He’s always said, ‘You’re more of a golfer than I am.'”
But Williams was never interested in trying to compete with her dad. In the end, the two began learning from one another.
“I always had this love for tennis,” she said. “And it was like we just started taking lessons together. We would try to beat each other at different times. Just beating each other as long as I could keep the ball out of his hand.”
Serena Williams at Wimbledon in 1986. (Photo by: Getty Images)
Williams, who turned 12 when she started taking lessons, said her father would use the same strategy against her.
“It was like playing with a broom,” she said. “I got on the practice court at three o’clock in the morning. I just wanted to beat him up, beat him up and beat him up. Because I loved