Serena Williams won her first Grand Slam tournament in 1999, at just 18 years old.
Two years later she returned to the United States final to lose it against a compatriot, who was also her older sister, Venus Williams.
But she got her revenge early and repeatedly: Between 2002 and 2003 the sisters met in six Grand Slam finals and Serena won them all.
Thus, she launched a sequence of titles that has made her the most dominant tennis player in open history.
Serena has won 23 trophies in the open era —since 1968—, one more than Steffi Graf, who was the best before her arrival.
If we go back further, the Australian Margaret Court adds 13 titles to the 11 she won in the open era, up to 24, one more than Serena.
The youngest of the Williams also surpasses all male tennis players in titles, although Novak Djokovic is two trophies away from reaching her and Rafael Nadal only one.
Serena has won
the Australian Open seven times
, beating Graf, Monica Seles, Evonne Goolagong and Court by a wide margin, who have four each.
Serena has won
the US Open six times
, the same as Chris Evert, and two more than Graf.
She has won
seven times at Wimbledon
, which is a spectacular result, but one that still pales in comparison to the nine titles Martina Navratilova achieved between 1978 and 1990.
Serena also has
three Roland Garros titles
, for her the most difficult tournament.
The last one she achieved in 2015, to become the third person in history capable of achieving each Grand Slam at least three times, along with Margaret Court and Steffi Graf.
Two decades in the elite
Serena entered the top 100 in world tennis in 1998 and remained there until this year.
She has spent 16 of those 23 years in the top 10 tennis players, more than any other player in history.
She has been number one in 5 seasons, only behind Graf, who was the best 8 times.
Serena exemplifies a trend that has been patent for years: the best athletes of the 21st century are able to remain in the elite for decades and even before exotic ages.
Athletes who are still dominant in their discipline at the age of 30 have gone from being a rarity to becoming something common, as Rafael Nadal, Cristiano Ronaldo, Megan Rapinoe or Serena herself have shown.
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