WTA founder Billie Jean King paid a very special tribute to Serena Williams during Black History Month, acknowledging that the former 23-time Grand Slam champion "transcended tennis" and directly influenced many people to pick up a racket and play tennis.
Williams, 42, inspired a whole generation of tennis players as many players in today's tennis looked up to Williams and tried to learn something from the American tennis icon. But one of Williams' biggest impacts happened in her own community as the American tennis legend showed Black people that it is possible for them to make it in tennis and then be very successful. "I've known Serena since she was six - she was in one of our team tennis clinics and I knew there that she and her sister [Venus] were special.
In fact, we had them hit for the audience. Our first black woman was Althea Gibson, who won Wimbledon in 1957 and 1958 but what Serena has done has transcended our sport. And that's what you want from every champion from every sport really.
She's got so many new people playing our sport, not just black children, but everyone," King told Sky Sports.
King pays special tribute to Williams
Serena and Venus Williams will forever be remembered as one of the greatest champions in tennis history and their impact goes beyond tennis courts.
After winning this year's US Open, 19-year-old Coco Gauff admitted that it was the Williams sisters who inspired her to pick up a racket and believe that one day she could be winning the biggest tournaments in the world. “Yes, it's crazy.
I mean, they're the reason why I have this trophy today, to be honest. They have allowed me to believe in this dream, you know, growing up. You know, there wasn't too many just Black tennis players dominating the sport. It was literally, at that time when I was younger, it was just them that I can remember.
Obviously, more came because of their legacy. So it made the dream more believable," Gauff said in her tribute for the Williams sisters after winning the US Open.