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Williams, Venus Ebone Starr

Williams, Venus Ebone Starr, 1980–, b. Lynwood, Calif., and Serena Jameka Williams, 1981–, b. Saginaw, Mich., African-American tennis players. Coached by their father, Richard, both sisters turned professional early, but neither played regularly until the late 1990s, when they began to dominate women's singles tennis with their power games. They have faced each other in Grand Slam finals several times, and have also teamed as doubles partners for more than a dozen Grand Slam titles and three Olympic gold medals.

Venus turned pro at 14, reached the finals of the U.S. Open in 1997, and won her first Women's Tennis Association (WTA) singles championship in 1998. She captured her first Grand Slam events in 2000, winning Wimbledon and the U.S. Open, as well as the Olympic gold medal in women's singles. In 2001, Venus successfully defended her Wimbledon and U.S. titles. In the U.S. Open she defeated Serena in the first sisters' championship since 1884 it was the first time that two African-Americans competed for the title. Venus won Wimbledon again in 2005, 2007, and 2008, when she again faced her sister in the final.

Serena turned pro in 1995, and four years later she won her first WTA singles title. The same year she captured her first Grand Slam event, winning the U.S. Open. During the next two years Venus was in the ascendancy, but in 2002 Serena bested her older sister three times to win the French and U.S. opens and Wimbledon. In 2003, Serena defeated Venus to win her first Australian Open and second Wimbledon titles. Serena won the Australian Open again in 2005, 2007, 2009–10, and 2015, the U.S. Open in 2008 and 2012–14, Wimbledon in 2009 (defeating Venus in the final), 2010, 2012, and 2015, and the French Open in 2013 and 2015. Also, in 2012, Serena won Olympic gold in women's singles.

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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