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Biography: Venus and Serena Williams - Tennis Stars

VO: Rebecca Brayton
Even at a young age, both Venus and Serena Williams exhibited extraordinary talent on the tennis court. Eventually, these women dominated professional women’s tennis and forever changed the face of the sport. In between their successes on the court, these sisters have also found time for a number of other pursuits, including acting, fashion and interior design, as well as their part ownership of the NFL’s Miami Dolphins. Today, they are obviously well-known for their tennis talent, but they are also famous for their unique fashions and explosive attitudes. In this video, takes a look at the lives and careers of the Williams sisters: Venus and Serena.

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Biography: The Williams Sisters – Venus and Serena

These sisters forever changed tennis with their powerful playing styles and unique fashion sense. Welcome to, and today we’ll be learning more about the lives and careers of the Williams sisters.

Early Days

Venus Ebony Starr Williams was born June 17th, 1980, and her sister Serena Jameka Williams was born September 26th the next year. They both showed extraordinary tennis talent early in their lives, and were coached by their father Richard Williams on the city courts of Los Angeles. Eventually the family moved to Florida in order to hone the girls’ skills at a renowned tennis academy.

Junior Tennis Careers

Both Venus and Serena excelled in national junior tennis tournaments: with help from her 100 mile-per-hour serve, Venus ranked first among under-12s in Southern California, while Serena was first overall in Florida’s under-10 category. However, their father decided to play the girls less so they could focus on school.

Professional Debuts

The two girls made their professional debuts within a year of each other: Venus in ’94 and Serena in ’95. By 1997, both ranked within the top 100 of women’s tennis players: Venus finished the year ranked 22nd overall, while Serena placed 99th. In fact, that year Venus became the first unseeded U.S. Open women’s finalist in almost forty years.

Venus Breaks the Top 10

1998 was the year the Williams sisters competed professionally for the first time, with Venus taking the match. That same year, Venus broke the top 10 of world rankings and finished the year fifth. Serena found success competing in doubles tournaments, sometimes with her sister. She was ranked 20th overall at the end of ‘98, and it was around this time she inked a lucrative shoe deal with Puma.

Williams Family Domination

Complete domination by the Williams sisters began in 1999, when Serena beat her sister to win their family’s first Grand Slam title by taking the U.S. Open. The next year, Venus took the U.S. Open, won Wimbledon, and signed a $40 million endorsement deal with Reebok. It was also in 2000 that Venus won a gold medal in women’s singles at the Sydney Olympics, and another gold with Serena in doubles.

U.S. Open: Williams vs. Williams

The sisters squared off in the U.S. Open final two years in a row, with Venus winning in 2001 and Serena taking the title the next year. 2002 was also the year both sisters ranked first in the world for a period of time.

Continuing Success

The sisters continued with high-profile wins over the next years: Serena won more than twenty Grand Slam titles, including many doubles titles with her sister. The two also competed against each other directly a number of times, and these matches fuelled their longtime rivalry. In late 2003, Serena signed a $55 million deal with Nike.


Both girls struggled through the mid-2000s, after the murder of their sister. Venus managed to get back into shape and win Wimbledon in 2007. Serena won the 2008 U.S. Open, and paired with her sister for an Olympic showing in Beijing that left the Williams with another gold medal.

Big Paychecks

This success on the court translated to big paychecks: Serena became the first female tennis player to surpass $30 million in earnings, while Venus was not far behind.


However, controversy followed the girls throughout their careers, mainly due to their unorthodox clothing and outspoken nature. In 2009, Serena made matters worse when she was put on probation and fined over $92 thousand for verbally berating a lineswoman during a match. This was the worst fine imposed on any tennis player to that point.

Venus’ Injuries and Illness

Meanwhile, in 2011, Venus suffered from injuries and an autoimmune disease that affected her game.

Other Pursuits

Aside from their prowess on the courts, both sisters have gained fame for outside projects and entrepreneurial enterprises. Serena tried her hand at acting, and both sisters have released clothing lines, among other pursuits. Venus earned a degree in Interior Design in 2007. And, in 2009, the pair became part owners of the NFL’s Miami Dolphins.

Distinctive Williams Style

The Williams sisters have both showcased a distinctive style, both in terms of play and clothing, and this is just one reason they have stood out on the court. However, their athletic skills and sheer power have made them both forces to be reckoned with, and have forever changed the sport of tennis.

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