The search ends pretty quickly when someone tries to find Serena Williams' junior results. Not because she was not good at 15, 16 or 17, but because she skipped the whole junior level! Serena worked hard in Florida, and she was ready for the professional duties.
She gained a lot of places on the WTA ranking list in 1997 despite a reduced schedule and kicked off the following season inside the top-100. Williams qualified for the main draw in Sydney and ousted world no. 3 Lindsay Davenport after a massive battle in sets two and three.
The youngster had nothing left in the tank for the semi-final clash against Arantxa Sanchez-Vicario, taking only three games against the Spaniard. Serena made a Major debut at the Australian Open and suffered a second-round loss to her sister Venus.
Williams grabbed two victories in the Oklahoma City event before losing in the quarter-final, firing up her game ahead of the Miami Open.
Serena Williams was preparing for her Wimbledon debut in 1998.
Serena entered her home event as a top-40 player and defeated Denisa Chladkova 6-4, 6-0 for a winning start.
Williams toppled a top-10 opponent Irina Spirlea 7-6, 6-0 to enter the third round. The youngster struggled a bit in the opener, failing to make an impression on the return before delivering a crucial break at 4-5 when her rival served for the set.
The American won the tie break 7-4 and gained a massive boost ahead of the second set when she produced a bagel and sailed into the next round. World no. 26 Barbara Paulus stood no chance against the young gun, as Serena ousted her 6-3, 6-2 with a notable performance on serve and return.
Making a name for herself on the WTA Tour at 16, Serena was getting ready for her Wimbledon debut three months later. Never competing on grass before, the American decided to embrace serve & volley style on the fastest surface that summer.
Williams mentioned Yevgeny Kafelnikov as her role model, as the Russian claimed the Roland Garros crown and still rushed to the net on grass. "I have decided to serve and volley at Wimbledon. One male competitor plays great on clay and then goes for serve & volley on grass.
And I said to myself, 'Serena, you have to do the same thing.' Venus stayed on the baseline on grass last year, and it did not finish nicely for her. When I saw Yevgeny Kafelnikov, I decided to follow his pattern and play the same way.
Yevgeny won the Roland Garros title, and he rushes to the net on grass. If he can do it, I believe I can as well," Serena Williams said.