Serena Williams: Age, family, husband, children, net worth,

Many would argue that there is a pre-Williams and post-Williams era in tennis.

Of course, we’re talking about Serena and Venus, the sisters that changed the sport of tennis forever. Venus went on to become one of the greatest players of all time, and her sister Serena then topped even that.

Not only did they both become great athletes, but Serena Williams and her sister changed tennis at its foundation, becoming fierce advocates and icons for gender and racial equality in sports.

These days Serena, a Compton, California native has announced her retirement from the sport, but her work is far from over. 

Serena has one daughter with her husband, Alexis Ohanian, and their love story truly is a wonderful one. Here’s all you need to know about Serena Williams and her beautiful family – and why she tried to chase her now-husband away the first time they met.

Serena Williams, Venus Williams
Venus (left) and Serena (right) Youtube/TransWorldSport

Serena Williams was born September 26, 1981, in Saginaw, Michigan, to father Richard and mother Oracene Williams. She is the youngest of Richard’s five daughters, but her father knew from the beginning that he wanted Venus and Serena to become tennis champions.

Serena Williams – early life & father Richard

Three years before Serena’s birth, Richard had seen Romanian tennis player Virginia Ruzici receive $20,000 for winning the 1978 French Open. He realized that tennis was a way to give his daughters a great life.

There was only one problem: Richard knew nothing about tennis.

Through the use of instructional videos, Richard – at the time the owner of a security agency – taught himself and his wife Oracene how to become masters of the game of tennis.

He decided to write a now legendary 78-page-plan on how to practice and become successful in the sport. Venus and Serena started playing at the age of four – and it wasn’t long at all before Richard’s plan began bearing fruit.

It quickly became obvious that the sisters were naturals.

Growing up, Serena shared a bedroom and two bunk beds with her siblings. As reported by ESPN, she used to crawl into bed with a different sister each night.

Serena grew up in Compton, California. For a long time, the larger Los Angeles area city had a nasty reputation, and Richard saw tennis as a way out.

Richard Williams. Youtube/TransWorldSport

Now, sharing a bedroom with four sisters might sound challenging for many, but as Serena recalled, it never troubled her.

“I never ever, ever felt broke”

According to the tennis superstar, her circumstances as a child didn’t reflect how she saw herself or performed.

“Since I was a teenager, I’ve had to make every financial decision in my life,” Serena said. “I’ve had to learn how to make good ones and how to make bad ones, to make better ones.”

She added: “I never ever, ever felt broke. Looking back, I’m like, ‘Wow.’ We lived in a two-bedroom house with seven people. I don’t know how my parents were able to make me feel that way, but they did, and it was special. So I never felt when I came into money that I needed to go buy this because I never wanted anything. So it was a great way.”

Eventually, Richard quit his job as a security guard to coach Venus and Serena full-time while his wife Oracene supported the family. Early on, their hard work began to pay off.

In 1991, aged nine, Serena played in her first junior tournament. She made it all the way to the final – where she faced Venus. Her sister won the match, but Serena was given the trophy afterward.

Serena Williams

At that stage, Richard realized his promising girls needed to play on a better court.

Serena Williams became a pioneer at tennis country clubs

However, at the time, there was a particular culture within the predominantly-white tennis establishment. People at country clubs were quite shocked when Venus and Serena would show up. Richard, though, made sure that was never something his girls had to think about.

“This sport can be very cruel to black people in country clubs,” tennis coach and TV expert on the Tennis Channel Kamau Murray told NY Post.

“And the thing about tennis – it’s subtle cruelty. It’s not obvious, and it’s not overt. And a lot of times those things can be the most damaging.”

Richard took on a lot of underlying racial tension to protect his daughters from it.

“I think part of the genius of Richard Williams was embracing that and taking the pressure in a lot of ways off the girls,” director of the Hollywood film King Richard – about Richard and the Williams sisters – Reinaldo Marcus Green added.

Serena developed into a better and better tennis player. At 13, she made her pro-debut at the Bell Challenge in Quebec. Sadly, she lost her match in less than one hour, and didn’t play any more tournaments that same year.

Serena Williams
Shutterstock/Neale Cousland

Then, in 1997, during the Ameritech Cup, Serena showed that she was for real. She beat No. 7 ranked Mary Pierce, then No. 4 ranked Monica Seles, making her the lowest-ranked player (No. 304) to beat two top-ten opponents in one tournament.

From talent to world-class player in two years

After that, Serena set her sights on the top. Nothing could stop her.

In 1998, she and playing partner Max Mirnyi won two Grand Slams in mixed-doubles – both Wimbledon and the US Open. The following year, at age 17, Serena became the first African-American woman to win a major in the Open era, winning her first Grand Slam title at the US Open. As a result, she jumped to the No. 4 spot in the world rankings – and that was just the beginning.

Over two years, Serena had become a global sports star. Suddenly, she was making guest appearances on The Simpsons and appearing on the cover of Sports Illustrated. 

In 1999, Serena graduated high school – and almost immediately signed a $12 million endorsement deal with Puma.

After having problems with an ankle injury in the early 2000s, Serena returned to the court in 2002. The rivalry between her and her sister Venus was apparent – the two were among, if not the two, best players in the world. Serena defeated Venus in the French Open, the US. Open, the Wimbledon final and, in early 2003, she won her first Australian Open.

Serena Williams, Venus Williams
Shutterstock/Leonard Zhukovsky

She became one of only six women to have won the four biggest tournaments – also known as a “career Grand Slam.” The tennis star herself referred it a “Serena Slam,” as she was the simultaneous reigning champion of the four tournaments.

Serena Williams – prize money & net worth

We could go on forever regarding the outstanding achievements of Serena on the tennis court. In total, the California native has won 73 singles titles – 23 of them grand slam singles titles – 14 women’s doubles titles, and two mixed doubles slams.

Naturally, her impressive results on the court have translated into cash. According to the WTA, Serena has earned $94,618,080 in career prize money, more than any woman tennis player in history.

According to Forbes, meanwhile, she has a net worth of $250 million.

It’s no surprise that Wiliams has been the face of tennis since winning her first US Open in 1999. Yet while her celebrity status quickly went through the roof, she’s always tried to use it for the greater good.

Serena has been a fierce advocate for racial and gender equality in and outside sports for many years now. Moreover, in 2007, she became the first woman to be paid equal to her male counterpart after winning Wimbledon. Over the years, Serena and her sister Venus have donated more than $18 million to renovating a tennis center in a low-income neighborhood in Washington DC.

Serena Williams
Shutterstock/Jimmie48 Photography

The Williams sisters have become huge role models, not least for young black athletes. According to an analysis by Sports Marketing Surveys, participation among Black tennis players increased by 44% between 2019 and 2021, from 1.6 million to 2.3 million, as reported by Insider.

Serena Williams’ retirement

Many tennis players, including Grand Slam champion Sloane Stephens and Japanese superstar Naomi Osaka, have cited Venus and Serena as their inspirations.

“Countless individuals picked up a racquet because they saw what she did on the court and wanted to be like Serena,” Marisa Grimes, chief diversity & inclusion officer at the United States Tennis Association, told Insider.

“[Serena] undeniably revolutionized women’s tennis, and gave so many women and girls, especially those within the Black community, a powerful representation of what it looks like to rise above adversity, fight for what you believe, and be a champion,” she added.

At the beginning of August this year, Serena announced that she was retiring from tennis for good.

Serena Williams

“It’s been such a hard decision, you know. It’s been a very hard decision because I think when you’re passionate about something, and you love something so much, I think it’s always hard to walk away,” Williams said before her last ever tournament, the US Open in September.

“Sometimes it’s harder to walk away than to not, and that’s been the case for, so I’ve been trying to decide for a little while what to do.”

On September 4, Serena lost to Ajla Tomljanovic in the third round of the US Open. It likely was the final match of her amazing career.

Serena Williams – family, husband, children

At age 40, she’s now ready for the next step in her career. Since rising to fame, Serena hasn’t been all that public with her private life. Indeed, most people don’t know the ins-and-outs of the beautiful love story between she and her husband.

The long-lasting relationship between Serena Williams and her husband Alexis Ohanian was almost over before it began. In fact, it all started with the tennis legend trying to make Alexis go away.

The two reportedly met for the first time on May 12, 2015, when Serena was staying at the Cavalieri hotel in Rome. Ohanian was staying at the same hotel for the Festival of Media Global conference, and one morning came down to breakfast slightly hungover. He went to the pool area – and happened to sit at the table next to Serena Wiliams.

The tennis star thought it was a strange choice, as there were many other empty tables. Nevertheless, she wanted him to move.

Serena Williams, Alexis Ohanian

“This big guy comes and he just plops down at the table next to us, and I’m like, ‘Huh! All these tables and he’s sitting here?'” Serena recalled in an interview with Vanity Fair.

“We were trying to get him to move”

Zane Haupt, who handled Serena’s business development opportunities, went up to Alexis.

“Aye, mate! There’s a rat,” he said. “There’s a rat by your table. You don’t want to sit there.”

“We were trying to get him to move and get out of there,” Serena said. “He kind of refuses and he looks at us. And he’s like, ‘Is there really a rat here?'”

Williams remembered the first words she ever told him.

“No, we just don’t want you sitting there,” she told him. “We’re going to use that table.”

“I’m from Brooklyn. I see rats all the time,” Alexis responded.

Instead of leaving the matter be, Serena suggested a compromise, and invited Alexis to their table instead. At that point, he was “98 percent sure” that Serena Williams was sitting next to him.

He had never watched a tennis game on television, nor in real life. Simply put, he had “no respect” for the sport.

Serena Williams, Alexis Ohanian
Shutterstock/lev radin

From there, though, things took a different turn. Alexis and Serena started dating, and just a year later, Alexis proposed. Where? At the same hotel in Rome where they first met, of course.

“I knew it was coming,” Serena says of the proposal. “I was like, ‘Serena, you’re ready. This is what you want.'”

Who is Serena Williams’ husband Alexis Ohanian?

Alexis was born in Brooklyn and raised in Columbia, Maryland. When he went to the University of Virginia in 2004, he still didn’t know what he wanted to do with his life.

Ohanian had started programming and learned how to build websites at the time. Alongside engineering student Steve Huffman, he made a website that later would be known as Reddit, self-described as “the front page of the Internet.”

Reddit quickly grew into a huge site, and 16 months after launching, Alexis and Steve sold Reddit to Condé Nast for $10 to $15 million. Today, it’s said to have an estimated worth of $4 billion. Alexis later returned to the company that he had founded as executive chairman. He stepped down from the role in 2020.

The last five years have been hectic for Serena and Alexis, but undoubtedly full of excitement and love. In September 2017, Serena gave birth to a daughter, Olympia, giving she and Alexis a whole new perspective on life. 

The legendary athlete shared that the experience helped her in her legendary tennis career.

“When I’m too anxious I lose matches, and I feel like a lot of that anxiety disappeared when Olympia was born,” Serena told Vogue. “Knowing I’ve got this beautiful baby to go home to makes me feel like I don’t have to play another match. I don’t need the money or the titles or the prestige. I want them, but I don’t need them. That’s a different feeling for me.”

Serena Williams

Quality time with daughter Olympia

Being a tennis star, traveling the world, and playing tournaments simultaneously was a huge challenge for Serena. In recent times, injuries have taken their toll, and though that’s something she would likely have preferred to avoid, it’s meant she’s had more time to spend with her daughter.

That said, Serena herself admitted that she hasn’t always been sure she even wanted a kid.

“Earlier in my career, I never thought about having kids. There were times when I’ve wondered if I should ever bring kids into this world, with all its problems,” she said.

“I was never that confident or comfortable around babies or children, and I figured that if I ever did have a baby, I would have people taking care of it 24/7. I’m not going to lie — I definitely have a lot of support. But I’m also an incredibly hands-on mother. My husband will tell you I am too hands-on. “

Serena added: “In five years, Olympia has only spent one 24-hour period away from me. This past year, while I was recovering from a hamstring injury, I got to pick her up from school four or five days a week, and I always looked forward to seeing her face light up when she walked out of the building and saw me waiting there for her. The fact is that nothing is a sacrifice for me when it comes to Olympia.”

Serena Williams

Currently, Serena is competing in her last-ever tournament.

“Women athletes feel that they can be themselves”

Her daughter and husband are, as many times before, in the stands supporting her. But, no matter what happens, she will always be celebrated as one of the best tennis players in history.

So what will her legacy be? Well, Serena has no idea.

“I get asked about it a lot, and I never know exactly what to say,” Williams said.

“But I’d like to think that thanks to opportunities afforded to me, women athletes feel that they can be themselves on the court. They can play with aggression and pump their fists they can be strong yet beautiful. They can wear what they want and say what they want and kick butt and be proud of it all.”

Serena Williams is not only a fantastic tennis player, but more importantly, she, together with her sister Venus, has paved the way for a new generation to fall in love with her sport and fight against inequalities in society.

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