Serena Williams dominated her generation, then the next

Serena Williams, who has been playing professional tennis for 27 years, has dealt with several generations of stars vying for a position at the top of the sport.

The strength of her claim to be the greatest player of all time is rooted not only in her longevity – and 23 Grand Slam singles titles – but also in her dominance over women from all eras of tennis. She routinely beat the stars who ruled tennis before her, and she held her own against phenomena that came to the court more recently. Between those generations, Williams overwhelmed the women who grew up with her in the sport — and then outlived many of them by more than a decade.


Serena Williams professional games, ages 14 to 40





A 17-year-old Williams defeated

Martina Hingis in the USA 1999

Open to her first major singles title.​

At 35, Williams beat her 36-year-old

Sister at the Australian Open 2017 – the

oldest women’s final in Grand Slam history.​

A 17-year-old Williams defeated

Martina Hingis in the USA 1999

Open to her first major singles title.​

At 35, Williams beat her 36-year-old

Sister at the Australian Open 2017 – the

oldest women’s final in Grand Slam history.​

A 17 year old Williams

defeats Martina Hingis

at the 1999 US Open for

her first major singles title.​

At 35, Williams beat her

36-year-old sister in the

Australian Open 2017 —

the oldest women’s final in

Grand Slam History.​





Source: Tennis Summary


Note: Data includes all WTA main draw games and qualifiers, as well as the Fed Cup and Olympics.


By Leo Dominguez and Sara Ziegler

Williams turned pro at 14. Her first top-level title on the tour came in 1999 against Steffi Graf, who ended her career with 22 Grand Slam championships. Williams was 17 at the time and eventually surpassed Graf’s Majors wins with her win at the Australian Open 2017.

As Williams settled into her prime, she found regular enemies in a cohort of women who rose through the ranks at about the same time as her. She went toe-to-toe with Martina Hingis, Jennifer Capriati, Lindsay Davenport, Kim Clijsters, Justine Henin and Venus Williams – all of whom reached No. 1 in the same era as Serena Williams and all lost to her more often than they won. Serena Williams had an overall record of 63-38 against these peers in WTA games, the Fed Cup, and the Olympics.

With the exception of Venus Williams, who is still playing at age 42, these other former top women had largely retired from WTA singles competition by the age of about 30. But as Serena Williams turned 30, she only seemed to get stronger.

By the age of 30-35, she had a record of 288-34 and won 89 percent of her games. She spent 186 consecutive weeks 1st during that period – from February 2013 to September 2016 – and she dominated the other women who reached the top level of tennis during that period. Her career record was 19-5 against Victoria Azarenka, 10-3 against Simona Halep, 10-1 against Caroline Wozniacki and 20-3 against Maria Sharapova.

Williams became a mother just before she was 36, and although she returned to court the next year, her time on the tour has since been limited by injuries. Consequently, the top contenders of that era had more success against them than previous ones. Naomi Osaka is 3-1 against Williams while Bianca Andreescu is 2-0. Both young stars beat Williams in the US Open final – Osaka in 2018, Andreescu in 2019.

As for the next set of phenomena, they haven’t had as many chances to play against Williams, partly because of their limited schedule and because they’ve had less deep runs at tournaments over the past three years. The current No. 1, Iga Swiatek, has never faced her. Second-placed Anett Kontaveit doesn’t have it either, although she would Williams’ next opponent if both win their first round matches. Emma Raducanu, who won the US Open last year, played Williams for the first and probably only time at the Western and Southern Opens this month.

Raducanu, the won this matchShe appreciated being able to play a woman she idolized, even if it was in the twilight of Williams’ career: “I am so grateful for the experience of playing her and for the fact that our careers have crossed.”

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