No one in tennis draws as much attention as Serena Williams.
The often-controversial superstar has brought a unique flair to the game ever since she won her first Grand Slam title in 1999. Williams, along with her older sister, Venus, have been the dominant force on the WTA Tour for the majority of the 21st century and are recognized by just their first names.
The younger Williams is currently the most followed tennis player on Twitter, with more than two million followers. Here she allows fans a glimpse into her busy life outside of tennis and often posts cryptic tweets that only her inner-circle would understand.
Williams is charming and charismatic, but also unapologetic and tempestuous. She is one of the fittest athletes in the world, but claims she loathes working out. She has won 13 Grand Slams singles titles, but recently said that she does not love tennis.
“I mean, I don’t love tennis today, but I’m here, and I can’t live without it,” Williams said after her first-round win at the Brisbane International. “So I’m still here and I don’t want to go anywhere anytime soon.”
In the just one match at the U.S. Open last year, Williams showed why she is such a polarizing figure. Less than an hour after berating the chair umpire for what she perceived as an unfair call, Williams sat next to and congratulated the champion, Sam Stosur.
Asked about the gesture during the post-match press conference, Stosur replied, “I thought [it] was pretty classy.”
In these situations and paradoxes, we find what makes Serena Williams so compelling. Her presence demands attention. The 2011 U.S. Open may not of even registered on the casual sports fan’s mind had it not been for another “Serena meltdown.”
Williams has been criticized for focusing too much on outside interests, such as fashion and acting, but continues to be a favorite in any tournament she enters.
She may not love tennis, but the sport can’t seem to get enough of her.