This article possibly contains original research. (April 2011)
The Williams sisters are two professional American tennis players: Venus Williams (b. 1980), a seven-time Grand Slam title winner (singles), and Serena Williams (b. 1981), twenty-three-time Grand Slam title winner (singles), both of whom were coached from an early age by their parents Richard Williams and Oracene Price. There is a noted professional rivalry between them— between the 2001 US Open and the 2017 Australian Open tournaments, they met in nine Grand Slam singles finals. They became the first two players, female or male, to play in four consecutive Grand Slam singles finals from the 2002 French Open to the 2003 Australian Open; Serena famously won all four to complete the first of two "Serena Slams". Between 2000 and 2016, a 17-year span, they collectively won 12 Wimbledon singles titles (Venus won five, and Serena won seven). By winning the 2001 Australian Open women's doubles title, they became the fifth pair to complete the Career Doubles Grand Slam and the only pair to complete the Career Doubles Golden Slam. At the time, Venus and Serena were only 20 and 19 years old, respectively. Since then, they have gone on to add another two Olympic gold medals in the 2008 Beijing Olympics and the 2012 London Olympics. Nearly a decade later, the duo would go on to win four consecutive Grand Slam doubles titles from 2009 Wimbledon through 2010 Roland Garros, which would catapult them to co-No. 1 doubles players on 7 June 2010. Two weeks later, on 21 June 2010, Serena would hold the No. 1 singles ranking, and Venus would be right behind her at No. 2 in singles. Their most recent Grand Slam doubles titles came at the 2012 Wimbledon and 2016 Wimbledon events. They remain very close, often watching each other's matches in support, even after one of them has been knocked out of a tournament.
Both sisters have been ranked by the Women's Tennis Association at the world No. 1 position in both singles and doubles. In 2002, after the French Open, Venus Williams and Serena Williams were ranked No. 1 and No. 2, respectively, marking the first time in history that sisters occupied the top 2 singles spots in the world rankings. During the 2010 French Open, they became the co-world No. 1 players in women's doubles. On 21 June 2010, Serena and Venus again held the No. 1 and No. 2 rankings spots in singles, respectively, some eight years after first accomplishing this feat. At the time, Serena was three months shy of her 29th birthday and Venus had just celebrated her 30th birthday.
Both players have won four gold medals at the Summer Olympics, one each in singles and three in doubles—all won together—the most of any tennis players. Venus has also won a silver in mixed doubles at the 2016 Rio Olympics. As a duo, they have also completed the Career Golden Slam in doubles, twice. Between the two of them, they have completed the Boxed Set, winning all four grand slams in singles, women's doubles, and mixed doubles. They won all of the mixed doubles titles in 1998 to go along with their titles in singles and women's doubles.
Doubles: 23 (22 titles, 1 runner-up)
|Winner||1.||February 23, 1998||Oklahoma City, United States (1)||Hard|| Cătălina Cristea
|Winner||2.||October 12, 1998||Zürich, Switzerland (1)||Carpet|| Mariaan de Swardt
|5–7, 6–1, 6–3|
|Winner||3.||February 15, 1999||Hannover, Germany (1)||Carpet|| Alexandra Fusai
|5–7, 6–2, 6–2|
|Winner||4.||May 24, 1999||French Open, Paris, France (1)||Clay|| Martina Hingis
|6–3, 6–7(2–7), 8–6|
|Runner-up||1.||August 8, 1999||San Diego, U.S. (1)||Hard|| Lindsay Davenport
|Winner||5.||August 30, 1999||US Open, New York City, U.S. (1)||Hard|| Chanda Rubin
|4–6, 6–1, 6–4|
|Winner||6.||June 26, 2000||Wimbledon, London, United Kingdom (1)||Grass|| Julie Halard-Decugis
|Winner||7.||September 18, 2000||Summer Olympics, Sydney, Australia (1)||Hard|| Kristie Boogert
|Winner||8.||January 15, 2001||Australian Open, Melbourne, Australia (1)||Hard|| Lindsay Davenport
|6–2, 4–6, 6–4|
|Winner||9.||June 24, 2002||Wimbledon, London, U.K. (2)||Grass|| Virginia Ruano Pascual
|Winner||10.||January 13, 2003||Australian Open, Melbourne, Australia (2)||Hard|| Virginia Ruano Pascual
|4–6, 6–4, 6–3|
|Winner||11.||July 5, 2008||Wimbledon, London, U.K. (3)||Grass|| Lisa Raymond
|Winner||12.||August 17, 2008||Summer Olympics, Beijing, China (2)||Hard|| Anabel Medina Garrigues
Virginia Ruano Pascual
|Winner||13.||January 30, 2009||Australian Open, Melbourne, Australia (3)||Hard|| Ai Sugiyama
|Winner||14.||July 4, 2009||Wimbledon, London, U.K. (4)||Grass|| Samantha Stosur
|Winner||15.||August 2, 2009||Stanford, U.S. (1)||Hard|| Chan Yung-jan
|Winner||16.||September 14, 2009||US Open, New York City, U.S. (2)||Hard|| Cara Black
|Winner||17.||January 29, 2010||Australian Open, Melbourne, Australia (4)||Hard|| Cara Black
|Winner||18.||May 15, 2010||Madrid, Spain (1)||Clay|| Gisela Dulko
|Winner||19.||June 3, 2010||French Open, Paris, France (2)||Clay|| Květa Peschke
|Winner||20.||July 7, 2012||Wimbledon, London, U.K. (5)||Grass|| Andrea Hlaváčková
|Winner||21.||August 5, 2012||Summer Olympics, London, U.K. (3)||Grass|| Andrea Hlaváčková
|Winner||22.||July 9, 2016||Wimbledon, London, U.K. (6)||Grass|| Timea Babos
Team competition finals: 1 (1 titles)
|Winner||1.||September 18–19, 1999||Fed Cup, Stanford, US||Hard|| Lindsay Davenport
| Elena Makarova
|Grand Slam tournaments|
|Summer Olympics||Not Held||G||Not Held||A||Not Held||G||Not Held||G||Not Held||1R||Not Held||15–1|
|WTA Finals||Did Not Qualify||A||Did Not Qualify||SF||A||Did Not Qualify||0–1|
- Neither withdrawals nor walkovers are included in wins and losses.
Boycott of the Indian Wells Masters
The following day, Serena played Kim Clijsters in the final. Venus and her father, (coach to her and Serena) Richard Williams were booed as they made their way to their seats. Serena was booed intermittently during the final, in which she defeated Clijsters, 4–6, 6–4, 6–2, and even during the presentation ceremony.
Richard accused the crowds at Indian Wells of overt racism, saying, "The white people at Indian Wells, what they've been wanting to say all along to us finally came out: 'Nigger, stay away from here, we don't want you here'". However, no other reports of verbal racism were reported to tournament officials, although Venus has stated without elaboration, "I heard what he heard". Oracene Price (mother and coach of Venus and Serena) accused the crowd of "taking off their hoods".
Effects and criticism
After the initial controversy, neither Williams sister played the tournament in Indian Wells for 14 years. The Women's Tennis Association currently classifies the Indian Wells tournament as a Premier Mandatory event for all eligible players. Exceptions are made when players engage in tournament promotions, but Venus and Serena both declined to promote the tournament; WTA Tour CEO Larry Scott agreed he would not, promotionally, "put them in a position that is going to be awkward," and tournament director Charlie Pasarell has stated he would accept the WTA tour's ruling.
Allegations had been made before Venus's withdrawal that Richard Williams decided who won the matches between his daughters. Those allegations continued and increased as a result of her withdrawal.
Richard has said that racial epithets were used against him and Venus as they sat in the stands during the final, but no official complaints were recorded by the tournament. Venus and Serena have been criticized for refusing to discuss the controversy, as some believe that their silence perpetuates racism.
Serena discusses what happened in her view at Indian Wells in detail in an entire chapter titled "The Fiery Darts of Indian Wells" in her 2009 autobiography, On the Line. She says that on the morning of the semifinal, Venus told the tour trainer that she had injured her knee and didn't think she could play and tried for hours to get approval from the trainer to withdraw, but the tournament officials kept stalling.
What got me most of all was that it wasn't just a scattered bunch of boos. It wasn't coming from just one section. It was like the whole crowd got together and decided to boo all at once. The ugliness was just raining down on me, hard. I didn't know what to do. Nothing like this had ever happened to me. What was most surprising about this uproar was the fact that tennis fans are typically a well-mannered bunch. They're respectful. They sit still. And in Palm Springs, especially, they tended to be pretty well-heeled, too. But I looked up and all I could see was a sea of rich people—mostly older, mostly white—standing and booing lustily, like some kind of genteel lynch mob. I don't mean to use such inflammatory language to describe the scene, but that's really how it seemed from where I was down on the court. Like these people were gonna come looking for me after the match. ... There was no mistaking that all of this was meant for me. I heard the word nigger a couple times, and I knew. I couldn't believe it. That's just not something you hear in polite society on that stadium court ... Just before the start of play, my dad and Venus started walking down the aisle to the players' box by the side of the court, and everybody turned and started to point and boo at them ... It was mostly just a chorus of boos, but I could still hear shouts of 'Nigger!' here and there. I even heard one angry voice telling us to go back to Compton. It was unbelievable ... We refused to return to Indian Wells. Even now, all these years later, we continue to boycott the event. It's become a mandatory tournament on the tour, meaning that the WTA can fine a player if she doesn't attend. But I don't care if they fine me a million dollars, I will not play there again.
However, on February 3, 2015, Serena Williams wrote an exclusive column for TIME magazine stating her intentions to return to Indian Wells for a tournament on March 9, 2015. She did indeed return and won her opening match. Williams withdrew before her semi-final match with Simona Halep because of a knee injury.
The WTA announced on January 27, 2016, that Venus would return to Indian Wells for the first time in 15 years.
Best result in Grand Slam singles (combined)
|Australian Open||A||QFV||QFV||A||SFV||QFV||WS||3RV||WS||3RS||WS||QFSV||WS||WS||3RV||4RS||QFS||4RS||WS||FS||WS||1RV||QFS||3RS||SFS||7 / 24|
|French Open||2RV||QFV||4RV||QFV||QFS||WS||SFS||QFSV||3RV||QFV||QFS||3RSV||QFS||QFS||A||2RV||WS||2RSV||WS||FS||4RV||4RS||3RS||2RS||4RS||3 / 23|
|Wimbledon||1RV||QFV||QFV||WV||WV||WS||WS||FS||WV||3RV||WV||WV||WS||WS||4RSV||WS||4RS||3RSV||WS||WS||FV||FS||FS||NH||2RV||12 / 24|
|US Open||FV||SFV||WS||WV||WV||WS||A||QFS||QFV||4RS||SFV||WS||SFS||SFV||FS||WS||WS||WS||SFS||SFS||SFV||FS||FS||SFS||A||8 / 23|
Year-end WTA ranking
- "Drucker: The story behind the Williamses and Indian Wells". ESPN.com. March 11, 2009.
- "Off-court distractions"
- "A fortnight of firsts at the French"
- Woolsey, Garth (2009-03-22). "Williams sisters at Indian Wells? Forget it". Toronto Star. Retrieved 2015-03-21.
- Edmondson, p. 91
- "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2015-03-15. Retrieved 2015-03-14.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
- "Serena Williams WDs at Indian Wells". ESPN. 2015-03-21. Retrieved 2015-03-21.
- "Venus books return to Indian Wells". WTA. 2016-01-27. Retrieved 2016-01-30.