Since Serena Williams entered the WTA ranking in September 1995, 37 of the current top 100 in the rankings had not yet been born. Only one other player had already played her first match of her career: it is obviously her sister Venus, one year older than her.
The first match ever played by Serena took place in the first round of qualifying in Quebec City 1995, clearly lost by a score of 6-1 6-1 by countrywoman Annie Miller. Miller, born in 1977, was no more than 40 WTA two years later.
Serena closed the 2020 season with the retirement from the second round of Roland Garros, where she would have to face the Bulgarian Tsvetana Pironkova. Yet at the beginning of her career, nothing was easy, as Serena herself said: "There were so many adversities that I had to overcome, even being myself was considered to be different.
In particular, the world of tennis is a sport where no one looks like me and at least at the beginning you can't really express yourself, it seems like a really bad thing to me. There is a double standard in everything we do, but unfortunately this is the society we live in and it takes several generations to change.
I think the most important part is to always be yourself and always be a humble and kind person. And that's the best I can do. In the end, I really feel like things have come together at some point. I'm just trying to be just the best person I can be."
Serena Williams' 2021: the Slam record, now or never
But her 2021 will be a season of now or never: Serena Williams has been looking for a 24th career Grand Slam title for some time, a title that would allow her to reach the top of this particular ranking at Margaret Court.
Williams wants to dispel this taboo in 2021 as she has lost the last 4 Grand Slam finals and is unable to reach Court's Slam record. The American champion is already the greatest tennis player of all time, but that record would certify this status, achieved over the years with simply demeaning successes for her opponent.
Serena, even today, is in a different category than her rivals. She only has to find two things to reach the long-awaited record: physical condition and strength lies. The last 4 Grand Slam finals lost by Serena were mostly the result of tension and emotion.
She can win a Slam in every surface, but at Wimbledon and at the Australian Open she will be her best chances. On the eve of the year in which Serena Williams will be 40 years-old, the chances of winning a Grand Slam, before retiring and the end of her professional career, become few, with many opponents ready to beat her on any occasion.
So this year the American will have to forcibly give everything on the court in order to reach the record, which is becoming almost a mission impossible. To understand the respect that Serena's opponents have for her, it is enough to reread the words of Svetlana Kuznetsova, protagonist of a thousand battles against Serena, especially in the first decade of 2000: "I have a lot of respect for Serena for everything she has achieved in the world of tennis.
We have shared the pitch on numerous occasions and from my point of view she is one of the best players in history. These players have a special personality. Serena can walk past you and not see you or stay with you and hug you as if you were her best friend.
This can make you uncomfortable. In an interview I said that she was granted many more things than the others. People started criticizing me, but my words were misinterpreted, which I also explained to Serena."