How Venus and Serena Williams lit up the tennis world both individually and collectively.

Venus Williams and Serena Williams


Venus, the older of the two siblings, won seven Grand Slam singles titles, including five Wimbledons, while Serena won 23 Grand Slam singles titles, the most in the Open Era, and the second-most of all time.


Venus Williams and Serena Williams

As a doubles pair they were virtually unstoppable.

The Williams sisters won 14 major women’s doubles titles and were unbeaten in major doubles finals.

Together, they won the Australian Open four times, the French Open twice, Wimbledon six times and the US Open twice.

They also achieved a non-calendar year Grand Slam between Wimbledon 2009 and the 2010 French Open and won three Olympic gold medals together at the 2000, 2008 and 2012 Olympic Games.

Their unparalleled doubles dominance started at the 1999 French Open in what turned out to be their first-ever Grand Slam doubles title together.

The sporting sisters faced Martina Hingis and Anna Kournikova in the final at Roland Garros that year.

Precocious teenager and singles world no. 1 Hingis was at the peak of her powers having won the won the Australian Open singles title two years prior at the age of 16.

The child prodigy added Wimbledon and US Open titles in 1997 and claimed two more victories Down Under in 1998 and 1999.

She also held a calendar year slam in doubles in ’98 and was the consensus best player in the world while Kournikova was an up-and-comer.

The pair combined to win the 1999 Australian Open doubles title in January that year and later described themselves as the ‘Spice Girls’ of tennis.

Hingis and Kournikova entered the 1999 French Open as the No. 2–seeded team, with the Williams’ at No. 9.

They met in a ‘downright saga’ of a final that was affected by rain delays and wind.

After a topsy-turvy match, Venus and Serena triumphed, 6-3, 6-7 (2), 8-6 to claim their first Grand Slam double title.

Venus recounted the epic match on Instagram several years ago.

She wrote: “I remember in the match we were up a set and 5-3 when hubris got the best of me. I got overconfident and didn’t focus on winning each and every point. I figured the title was ours. That could not have been further from the truth. The score became even and then I remember being the exact opposite of confident and getting so tight I couldn’t perform until late in the third set.”

She continued: “It was all very dramatical. There were so many rain delays and the wind started to blow the clay around in waves across the court. The final had gone from straightforward to a downright saga. In the end we won the first of 14 Grand Slams, but I learned a powerful lesson. Never let up! This photo of us lifting the trophy shows the final triumph but doesn’t tell the story and the battle that occurred to get there. The journey is the best part!”

The Williams’ family would continue to go up against Hingis in ’99.

They had a feud prior to the US Open that year after the Williams’ sisters outspoken father, Richard, predicted Venus and Serena would meet in the Flushing Meadows final.

World no. 1 Hingis didn’t take too kindly to the oversight.

“They always have a big mouth. He always has his comments. You know, it’s fun. Because I’m better than them so far. I’m the No. 1, not them,” Hingis said.

In response, Serena suggested the five-time Grand Slam champion lacked formal education.

“She just speaks her mind,” Serena said. “I guess it has a little bit to do with not having a formal education. But you just have to think more, use your brain a little more in the tennis world.”

As fate would have it, Williams and Hingis met in the final that year.

Serena beat her rival 6–3, 7–6 (4), to win her first major singles title. She would go on to win the US Open singles title an additional five times while the Swiss star never won a major again.

As for the French Open, Serena won three singles titles on the hallowed clay courts during her career – in 2002, 2013 and 2015.

Venus and Serena won two Roland Garros doubles titles in total.

After winning in ’99, they beat Kveta Peschke and Katarina Srebotnik in the 2010 final, 6–2, 6–3.

Serena Williams’ last Grand Slam title came at the Australian Open in 2017 and she would ultimately miss out on equalling Margaret Court’s record of 24 Grand Slam singles.

In a September 2022 issue of Vogue, the former world no. 1 announced her plans to “evolve away” from tennis after the 2022 US Open, citing a desire to focus on her family and venture capital firm.

The 14-time major doubles champion is married to Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian and they have two daughters – Alexis Olympia, six, and Adira River, who turns one in August