Serena Williams turns 40 today and we have 10 facts about the tennis great. We have one or two of the usual “stats” based facts, but we promise most of them are very interesting.
Serena Williams in a twist
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© Serena Williams in a twist

1. Mmmbop, ba duba dop

Let’s start with a fun one to get you going. She once told that the song she is most embarrassed to have on her phone is Mmmbop from Hanson.

We are not sure if that is still the case, but here you go Serena.

And you will now be singing that song for the rest of the day.

2. Some serious stats

– Has 23 Grand Slam singles titles to her name (most in the Open Era)

– Won 14 Grand Slam doubles titles (all with sister Venus Williams)

– Has two Grand Slam mixed doubles titles (both with Max Mirnyi)

– She spent 319 weeks top of the WTA Rankings (third behind Steffi Graf and Martina Navratilova)

– Was ranked No 1 for 186 consecutive weeks (tied with Graf in first place)

– Is the oldest player to be ranked at No 1 at 35 years, seven months and five days

– The oldest player to win a Grand Slam at 35 years, four months and two days when she won the 2017 Australian Open

– She has won 73 WTA singles titles (fifth in the overall ranking) and 23 WTA doubles trophies

– Has four Olympic gold medals (one singles and three doubles with sister Venus) to her name

3. Closing in on the $100,000,000 mark for career prize money

Serena has earned a staggering $ 94,518,971 (up to date until September 26, 2021) in tennis prize money. Naturally she is No 1 on the list and her earnings are more than double what the person in second place, her sister Venus, has earned ($42,280,541 ).

If that’s not already making you sit up and take note, then how about this. The American has not won a major since 2017 yet she continues to rack up the sponsorship money as she earned $36 million in the 2019/2020 year to sit second behind Naomi Osaka in the Forbes rich list for highest-earning female athletes.

Her net worth is more than $200 million and her sponsors include Nike, Intel, Wilson Sporting Goods, Gatorade, JPMorgan Chase and Beats Electronics.

4. Dr Serena Williams?

She started playing tennis at a very young age and juggling between school and practice was always a mission so her parents opted to home school her along with Venus. Serena, though, did enrol in high school and graduated from Driftwood Academy in 1999.

A young Venus Williams and Serena Williams
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© A young Venus Williams and Serena Williams Back in 2015 she revealed she was studying for a pre-med degree at the University of Massachusetts.

She told Telegraph Sport that it “was prompted by the auto-immune condition – Sjogren’s syndrome – that has afflicted her sister Venus”.

5. Friends with royalty

She is, of course, “pals” with Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, and she even attended the royal wedding in 2018. Her other friends include American royalty like Eva Longoria, Ciara, Alicia Keys, Beyonce, Kim Kardashian…although we are not sure if they are just fans. She is Serena Williams after all.

6. She owns a stake in the Miami Dolphins

Serena, along with sister Venus, became the first African American women to own a stake in a professional NFL franchise when they became minority shareholders in the Miami Dolphins in 2009.

“We’re really honored,” Serena told ESPN. “Venus and I in tennis have tried to do so much for the sport. We’re really excited to even have this opportunity.”

7. Movie star, TV star and voice over artist

She had cameos in movies like Oceans 8, Pixels and 7 Days In Hell (of course) to name a few while her TV credits include ER, Law & Order: Special Victims Unit and The Legend of Korra. She has also done voice overs for Avatar: The Last Airbender and Disney Channel’s Higglytown Heroes.

Here’s her scene from Pixels with Peter Dinklage.


Video player from: YouTube (Privacy Policy, Terms)

8. Fashionista

She has been known to make fashion statements on court. She first wore a catsuit during the 2002 US Open, but then reinvented it at Roland Garros in 2018. Her other on-court attire include boots, trench coats, leg warmers and Serena earrings.

In 2004 she launched a fashion line called “Aneres” (her name spelled backwards) and in 2018 she introduced her new clothing line Serena.

9. She nails everything!

We know you usually watch her for the tennis, but surely you will have noticed that her nails always look great. Back in 2010 she enrolled to become a nail technician and wrote a blog post for about how it was a “no brainer”.

Serena Williams hand/nails
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© Serena Williams hand/nails We are not sure if she completed the 240 hours to earn her certificate, but this is Serena so she probably did it in record time.

10. Doing her part

She has been a United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF) International Goodwill Ambassador since 2011 and also has her own charity the Serena Williams Foundation.

Her foundation supports charities like Build African Schools, Common Ground Foundation, Elton John AIDS Foundation, Eva Longoria Foundation, Global Goals, Great Ormond Street Hospital and many more.

Alexis Ohanian gushes over ‘incomparable’ Serena Williams in birthday post

Alexis Ohanian and Serena Williams
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Alexis Ohanian gushed over wife Serena Williams in celebration of her 40th birthday Sunday.

“✨ the incomparable @serenawilliams – grateful for every minute I get with my amazing wife & Olympia’s mama,” Ohanian, 38, wrote on Instagram, referring to their 4-year-old daughter.

Along with the sweet note, the Reddit co-founder posted a black-and-white photo of himself with Williams at the 2021 Met Gala earlier this month.

Friends and fans flocked to the comments section of Ohanian’s sweet post to mirror his sentiments and swoon over their relationship.

“I love the way you love her the way she deserves. She’s so f–king amazing and you’re appreciative rather than intimidated. It’s wonderful!” one person wrote.

“You are both so lucky. Such an amazing love. Sweet parents to a lovely little girl. She is blessed. As are you. 💗,” another fan commented.

“This is the sweetest shout out to your wife. Great hubby/dad and supporting women in general 🙌,” a third Instagram user agreed.

“A beautiful and blessed couple. Congratulations YOU BOTH HIT THE JACKPOT ❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️,” another added.

The tennis champ and Ohanian tied the knot in New Orleans in November 2017 with a star-studded wedding including guests Beyoncé, Kim Kardashian and Anna Wintour.

They had been dating since 2015 and got engaged in December 2016 while vacationing in Rome, which Williams fittingly announced in the Reddit subthread “/isaidyes.”

“This time he made it not by chance / But by choice,” she gushed at the time. “Down on one knee / He said 4 words / And I said yes.”

Williams accidentally revealed that she was pregnant with her first child with Ohanian in April 2017. They welcomed daughter Olympia that September that.

Serena Williams’ Husband Alexis Ohanian Honors His ‘Incomparable’ Wife on Her 40th Birthday

Serena Williams and husband Alexis Ohanian
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Serena Williams and husband Alexis Ohanian

Serena Williams is feeling the love on her 40th birthday!

The tennis superstar’s husband Alexis Ohanian, 38, penned a romantic tribute to his wife on Sunday to mark the special occasion.

“✨ the incomparable @serenawilliams – grateful for every minute I get with my amazing wife & Olympia’s mama,” he wrote on Instagram, alongside a photo of the pair looking into each other’s eyes.

Williams and Ohanian, who wed in 2017, share daughter Olympia, 4.

In an interview with CBS This Morning in May, Ohanian praised Williams for her ability to balance work and family life, explaining he used to have a “warped view of the path to excellence and the path to greatness being a direct result of just pure work.”

“That is obviously core to it, but one thing that I’m still working on is balancing that with time off, time away, time to reset and recharge,” he added. “Something [Williams] is really good at is shutting it off and focusing on family time and personal time.”

Williams previously opened up about her relationship with the Reddit co-founder in March, admitting to Bumble’s The Question Game that “marriage is not bliss, but it can be if you work at it.”

The 23-time Grand Slam winner also revealed that motherhood was always in the cards for her, adding in Bumble’s video, “I always knew I wanted kids. I never knew when but I always knew I wanted kids at some point.”

She concluded the segment with some words of wisdom. “I learned that love is an amazing feeling. And if you have an opportunity to feel it, then it’s a special thing,” she said.


Williams previously gave PEOPLE a glimpse at her home life in July 2020, revealing that daughter Olympia “dresses me and her father” every day.

“She’ll set up before bed what we need to wear in the morning,” she said. “And she says, ‘Blue shirt, blue shirt, blue shirt.’ And then she goes, ‘Mama wear this or these shoes.’ She always tells me to [wear] heels. She’s currently wearing heels.”

She and Olympia have frequently been twinning on her Instagram, looking adorable in matching tennis outfits and Disney Princess costumes. “We even have jammies. So now if she sees me in something, and she has the same thing, she immediately wants to change so we’re twins,” Williams added.

Serena Williams is very much her own woman: driven, focused, as formidable a competitor as tennis has ever seen. Throughout her nearly quarter-century long career, Serena has been a clutch performer, never easy to beat no matter the score. She has the greatest serve in the history of women’s tennis, forceful groundstrokes off both sides, and a remarkable ability to play her best when the chips are down. All of those assets have allowed her to rewrite the history books, including an Open era record tally of Grand Slam singles titles.

Her excellence has also upped the ante among her peers. As Serena has frequently pointed out, her opponents typically play their very best tennis when facing her. That, of course, is a tribute to the high standards she demands from her rivals. Bring anything less and you will be walking off the court quickly.

The last major title Serena won, at the 2017 Australian Open, is seen by many as her most impressive.
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The last major title Serena won, at the 2017 Australian Open, is seen by many as her most impressive.

But while Serena’s considerable skills inside the lines are highly visible, the underrated key to her success and longevity in such a ruthlessly individual sport as tennis comes from a strong attachment to family. One of the most endearing images of 2021 was a clip of Serena teaching tennis to her daughter, Alexis Olympia, who turned 4 on September 1. “You know what Grandpa taught me?” Serena asked. There it was: a three-generation thread, from the acknowledgment of Richard Williams’ expertise, to Serena seeking to pass on that wisdom.

Serena’s spirit of collaboration and community has always run deep, alongside husband Alexis Ohanian, sister/best friend Venus and mother Oracene, as well as frequent visits during tournaments from their sisters and friends. The Williams family has always treated tennis as a team sport, supporting one another through the wins and the losses—and all that has made their journey the most amazing story in the history of sports.

To commemorate Serena Williams’ 40th birthday on September 26, we’re looking back at four matches that define the power, precision and unshakeable persistence that took her to an Open Era record of 23 Grand Slam titles and 319 weeks atop the WTA rankings.

Last up: a signature face-off with chief rival Victoria Azarenka at the 2015 Wimbledon Championships.

Serena Williams continued her march towards a second "Serena Slam" after an epic with Azarenka.
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Serena Williams continued her march towards a second “Serena Slam” after an epic with Azarenka.

THE MOMENT: In a sport that thrives on the premise of evenly matched competitors battling for the biggest titles, the question of rivalries comes up when discussing Serena Williams. As any other athlete on the WTA tour, how do you compare to the incomparable?

It’s a challenge no player has been able to consistently meet throughout Williams’ 20+ years on tour: aside from sister Venus, Serena has outlasted nearly all of her early- and mid-career rivals.

Enter Victoria Azarenka, arguably Williams’ closest competitor in the last decade, and the player to most consistently catalyze classic matches out of the 23-time Grand Slam champion, belying their 18-5 head-to-head. Comfortable dominant against heavy hitters like Maria Sharapova, Ana Ivanovic, or Petra Kvitova, Williams can find herself on the other side of the coin against the scrappy Belarusian. An aggressive counterpuncher, Azarenka can rely on her athleticism to make Serena play the extra ball and turn scrambling defense to striking offense.

Their rivalry began in earnest Down Under, where Azarenka took a set from the eventual champion before wilting in the Melbourne heat. She came even closer the following year, but where 2009 came down to physicality, 2010’s would prove mental when Williams roared back from a set and 4-0 down to advance through in three.

Though Serena long held the edge on Azarenka at major tournaments, the rivalry grew more equal on the tour level, with the latter scoring championship victories in both Doha and Cincinnati in 2013 in between a pair of thrilling US Open finals.

Williams and Azarenka met for the first time since becoming mothers at the 2019 BNP Paribas Open.

“I’m a big Victoria fan,” she said after the narrow Western & Southern Open loss. “Whenever I’m not at a tournament, I root for her. For me, I think she’s just the ultimate competitor on the court and just really nice. She just leaves everything on the court and nothing personal, and everything off the court, she’s just so, so professional and so nice. I mean, I really get along with her. She’s just a great person.”

The top two players of that season, Williams and Azarenka took divergent paths in the two years that followed such that, by 2015, one was in hot pursuit of a Calendar Year Grand Slam while the other was working her way back from an extended period off court due to injuries.

Those circumstances meant the two were no longer meeting in finals, but rather for intense early-round scrimmages in both Madrid and Paris, where Williams would win in three sets.

Their quarterfinal Wimbledon clash came with added significance for Serena, who was not only undefeated at majors in 2015, but also three wins from a second “Serena Slam,” dating back to her 18th major win at the US Open the previous summer.

Where 2002-2003 was a masterclass of pace and precision, 2014-2015 saw Serena in her share of scraps, needing five three-setters to capture a third Roland Garros title two weeks earlier. Barring an epic meeting with home favorite Heather Watson, things had gone more smoothly at SW19, and she arrived in the last eight fresh off a decisive win over Venus.

I’m a big Victoria fan. Whenever I’m not at a tournament, I root for her. For me, I think she’s just the ultimate competitor on the court and just really nice. She just leaves everything on the court and nothing personal, and everything off the court, she’s just so, so professional and so nice. I mean, I really get along with her. She’s just a great person. Serena Williams on Victoria Azarenka

With Williams’ former hitting partner Sascha Bajin cheering from the stands, Azarenka looked to repeat her near-success in Paris when she surged through the opening set, taking the opportunities out of the American’s hands to edge within four games of victory.

On a surface that rewards Williams’ awe-inspiring pace, the top seed began injecting it more and more in the second-set rallies—seemingly out of frustration and a refusal to play the match on Azarenka’s terms.

The match turned on a break point for Serena, who pulled off an audacious passing shot she knew she’d made before Azarenka could even miss the reply, bringing the Centre Court crowd to its feet.

Though Azarenka would force a break point in the following game, little appeared in doubt once Williams was on the ascendency, ultimately securing a 26th straight major match win, 3-6, 6-2, 6-3 behind some scintillating tennis.

“It was really fun out there. I found myself smiling out there and I even saw Victoria smiling as well,” Serena said after the match. “It was such a great atmosphere to be out there playing and doing the best we can. I think we both really enjoyed it.”

The party continued for Serena through the end of the fortnight with a straightforward win over Sharapova and after a tense two-setter over finals debutante Garbiñe Muguruza. A second “Serena Slam” was finally in the books.

Williams' head-to-head with Azarenka currently stands at 18-5.
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Williams’ head-to-head with Azarenka currently stands at 18-5.

THE MEANING: Both Serena and “Vika” would become mothers in the two years that followed, reducing their rivalry down to four matches in the last six years. Azarenka at last upset Williams at a major last summer at the US Open, rallying from a set down in a rare reversal for the two friends.

As for Serena, the quest for a Calendar Year Grand Slam would end just two matches from the finish line in an unforgettable defeat to an inspired Roberta Vinci, but there were still more worlds for Williams to conquer. She would tie Steffi Graf’s Open Era record with a 22nd major title at the 2016 Wimbledon Champions and surpass the German in Melbourne six months later before going on maternity leave in 2017.

Her 2018 comeback is too often overshadowed by major final defeats that would match the mirage set by Margaret Court back before 128-draws and meaningful participation at the Australian Open. To best answer the GOAT question, one is best served by a holistic approach: majors won, but also impact felt. Serena Williams made a seismic shift on women’s tennis and pop culture. She is cited in academic essays, TV shows, and chart-topping hits; she is the athlete those who follow her aspire to be.

As the clock strikes on her 40th birthday, Serena need not celebrate herself, and instead allow us to give her the flowers she so richly deserves.

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