Today’s Birthday, September 26: US tennis great Serena Williams (1981- )
Serena Williams’ on-court behaviour in the US Open final divided the tennis world. The American accused the chair umpire of sexism and suggested female players were treated more harshly than their male counterparts.
The 23-time grand slam champion spat the dummy to sour a maiden major final victory for Japanese 20-year-old Naomi Osaka.
Chair umpire Carlos Ramos docked an incensed Williams a game penalty after she labelled him a “thief” while arguing against an earlier warning for coaching.
The match penalty was an accumulation of three code violations after her coach Patrick Mouratoglou was detected – and later admitted to – coaching from the player’s box along with an infraction for racket abuse.
The 36-year-old veteran claimed she was being targeted for being a woman and doubled down in her press conference to accuse Ramos of sexism – because he had “never taken a game from a man because they said ‘thief'”.
Born in 1981 in Saginaw, Michigan, Serena Jameka Williams grew up receiving tennis lessons from father Richard alongside older sister Venus.
At age 12 and 11, Richard famously predicted with stunning accuracy that the pair would both be champions but Serena would ultimately be better than Venus.
Serena knocked off world No.7 Mary Pierce and No.4 Monica Seles to climb inside the top 100 during her first season in 1997.
At 17, she beat world No.1 Martina Hingis in the 1999 US Open final for a maiden grand slam.
The Williams’ sisterhood rivalry reached its climax across four consecutive grand slam finals between 2002 and 2003. Serena won all four to surpass Venus and never looked back.
After debilitating injuries and the shooting death of her half-sister, Williams entered a period of depression and considered retiring.
But she marched on to cement her legacy as the undisputed best women’s player of all time.
Her extraordinary power game has laid waste to a generation of rivals and netted her seven Australian Opens, three French Opens, seven Wimbledons and six US Opens.
Williams sits second all-time for women’s grand slam titles with 23, one behind Australian Margaret Court.
She took an extended break from tennis last year to give birth to her first child, daughter Alexis Olympia. She later married Reddit co-founder and father of her child Alexis Ohanian before returning this season.