Serena Williams shares locker room chatter she overheard about her, Venus Williams

Serena Williams tells a great story of how players respected her and her sister Venus.

by Dzevad Mesic
Serena Williams shares locker room chatter she overheard about her, Venus Williams
© Getty Images Entertainment- Monica Schipper

Serena Williams has told quite a story as she claims she overheard fellow players in the locker room talking about wanting to beat her and her sister Venus Williams because they felt that was what needed to be done in order to win a tournament. 

The Williams sisters, who have won a combined 30 Grand Slam titles in singles, are widely considered the greatest sister duo in tennis history and their dominance was at its highest level in the 2000s. Shortly after Serena Williams became a Grand Slam champion at the 1999 US Open, the dominance of the Williams sisters started as they won 17 of 37 Grand Slam tournaments that took place between 2000 Wimbledon and 2009 Wimbledon.

At the time, the Williams sisters would also often face each other in the latter stages of tournaments and the fact that nine of their 31 meetings came in a Grand Slam final speaks volumes. 

While women's tennis was full of talent in the 2000s, there were players who managed to make a breakthrough and win a Grand Slam. But for average players, the Williams sisters were always a nightmare matchup. 

Serena Williams and Venus Williams
Serena Williams and Venus Williams © Getty Images Sport - Clive Brunskill

That a bit changed after Venus was diagnosed with Sjogren's disease in 2011. After being diagnosed with the autoimmune disease, Venus managed to return to the top of tennis and play one more Grand Slam final but she never rediscovered her level from the 2000s. Meanwhile, Serena's dominance continued as she won her 23rd Grand Slam title at the 2017 Australian Open and then appeared in four more Grand Slam finals before retiring in 2022.

Serena Williams on her and Venus having a target on their backs 

"People were having a conversation like, 'In the beginning of the tournament, I'm gonna beat Venus if I play her, but you have to beat Serena [too].' These are real conversations I actually overheard," Williams said during a conversation posted on X.

"I don't even care. I would've done the same thing. Listen, you gotta win, but they literally wanted to take us down, and I mean, it's a sport. It's a game. What do you expect, they'd want you to win?"

But now reflecting on that, Serena suggests that knowing the entire WTA Tour would always be extra motivated against them only made her and her sister Venus work harder and approach every match 100 percent locked in. And that was one of the reasons why they were able to dominate for so long.

"But I think the fact that they played us so much harder than they played each other was the reason why we were so much better. Because, imagine someone playing, giving you their best every single time, and fighting so hard against just you. And then you go a little lighter on the next person who's going to be better. I didn't have that target on my back. So, if it wasn't for them, I wouldn't have been me," Williams said.

Serena Williams retired two years ago and she still misses tennis

Shortly after retiring at the 2022 US Open, Serena Williams several times hinted that she was contemplating coming back. Then in one of her interviews from early 2023, Williams confessed that she was tempted to return and was thinking about it. But the former 23-time Grand Slam champion was able to resist and remain retired. 

Then on May 1st last year, Williams announced she was expecting her second child and her second daughter Adira was born last August. 

In a recent interview, Williams admitted that she started to miss tennis again after giving birth.

“It was all good when I was pregnant and now that I’m not anymore I’m like, ‘Ohhh I miss it so much!’,” Williams said on Today with Hoda & Jenna in April. 

“I’m doing so many things with different businesses. But tennis obviously was my first love and it will always be my first love and it is something I will always be so passionate about. I will never love anything as much as tennis, 'cause it’s like, you’re in the front of the world and you don’t even realize it because there’s so much pressure and there’s so much stress. But you’re walking out on center court every day and they’re there to see you. And there’s no adrenaline like that.”

Serena Williams
Serena Williams © Getty Images Sport - Matthew Stockman

Meanwhile, Venus Williams - who turns 44 on Monday - has had a challenging last couple of years but she remains active and has appeared in two tournaments this year. In those two appearances, Venus suffered first-round losses in Indian Wells and Miami.

Serena Williams Venus Williams