Serena Williams: Women's Player Of The Decade
Tennis|November/December 2019
Regardless of her ranking, the American’s unmistakable impact on the sport, and her unwavering approach to competition, make this a clear-cut selection
Matt Fitzgerald

In her first tournament appearance of the 2010s, in Sydney, Serena Williams said, “I definitely like to keep going when the going is tough. More than anything, I enjoy it. The moment I step on the court it’s like, this is what I was born to do. It’s what I do best.”

Those four sentences summed up Serena throughout the rest of the 2010s, a decade that saw her experience more jubilant highs and challenging lows, on and off the court, than most athletes experience in a lifetime.

How did she get through it all and come out on top? Her paramount shotmaking, world-class aptitude and preternatural gifts played significant roles. But it was her most empowering weapon—her relentless drive—that helped her most of all.

At the start of the 2010 season, Serena held 11 Grand Slam singles trophies. She quickly made the jump to 13 following successful title defenses at the Australian Open and Wimbledon, though her year was cut short after withstanding two separate surgeries on her right foot. Her time away from tennis was stretched to nearly a year when complications from a bilateral pulmonary embolism resulted in urgent treatment for a hematoma the size of a grapefruit.

Facing the “scariest moment of [her] life,” at the time, Serena refused to compromise, refused to look backward and refused to concede. Those qualities have propelled her to extraordinary comebacks, like when she was down a set and 4–0 to Victoria Azarenka in the 2010 Australian Open quarterfinals. None, however, were as profound or eminent as Serena’s return in June 2011.

Continue reading your story on the app

Continue reading your story in the magazine

MORE STORIES FROM TENNISView All

The Tennis Conversation: Jenson Brooksby, a piano man

Billy Joel may be a New York City icon, but the fans in Queens should start getting to know this piano man

4 mins read
Tennis
September - October 2021

The Five-Step Sit-Down Plan

Don’t neglect the value of a smart changeover routine

2 mins read
Tennis
September - October 2021

MAKING THE TURN

Six years after saying goodbye to the protour grind, Mardy Fish may be more active than ever—on the court, on the course, and helping combat a struggle anyone can encounter

9 mins read
Tennis
September - October 2021

FOOD FOR THOUGHT

Queens is known for its gastronomy as much as its tennis. Daniil Medvedev, equal parts sugar and spice, hopes to add a unique flavor to the borough as he vies for his first major

9 mins read
Tennis
September - October 2021

SUMMER IN THE CITIES

Broadway may not re-open until mid September, but tennis offers its own brand of live theatre in the preceding months

2 mins read
Tennis
September - October 2021

REOPEN SEASON

The pandemic halted tennis as an up-close experience— but is now giving way to pandemonium among crowds. As the pro game reopens this summer and fans gather again, we’re realizing what we’ve been missing for so long

10+ mins read
Tennis
September - October 2021

Court of Appeals

Resolving Your Rules Questions&Quarrels

3 mins read
Tennis
September - October 2021

An Open Mind: New York's Slam has no shortage of history, but it always evolves

In the last decade, Arthur Ashe Stadium got a roof, and a new Grandstand and Louis Armstrong Stadium debuted.

2 mins read
Tennis
September - October 2021

Those Fall Feels

The end of summer may be bittersweet, but getting lost amid the backroads of NEW ENGLAND adds a silver—and golden—lining to the season change. Pack a few sweaters along with your tennis kit and prepare for leaf-peeping, scenic drives and delicious autumnal ingredients to pair with your forehands

6 mins read
Tennis
September - October 2021

Court of Appeals

Resolving Your Rules Questions & Quarrels

3 mins read
Tennis
May - June 2021