In 1997, Williams became the first unseeded U.S. Open women’s finalist in the Open era. She lost to Martina Hingis. In 2000, she won both Wimbledon and the U.S. Open, paving the way for her to ink a $40 million contract with Reebok. She then went out and defended her titles in 2001.
At the 2000 Olympic Games in Sydney, Australia, Williams captured the gold medal in the singles competition, and then took a second one with Serena in the doubles event. The sisters have credited the other with pushing them in tennis, both as teammates and as competitors. Together, the pair have won 10 Grand Slam doubles titles and have squared off more than 20 times, including the finals of eight Grand Slam tournaments. In addition to their time spent together on the court, the sisters also share a home together in Florida. Their parents continue to coach them.
In recent years, Williams has struggled with injuries—she competed in only a handful of tournaments in 2006—but returned to form in 2007, winning the singles title at Wimbledon. She repeated the victory a year later, when she defeated Serena for a fifth career Wimbledon championship, placing her fifth all-time in women’s Wimbledon singles championships. A few months later, the Williams sisters teamed up to capture the doubles title at the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games.
At the 2012 Summer Olympic Games, held in London, Williams and sister Serena won gold in women’s doubles against Czech Republic tennis stars Andrea Hlavackova and Lucie Hradecka. The victory brough both her and Serena’s Olympic gold medal count to four.
Venus Williams was born on June 17, 1980, in Lynwood, California. Her father was a former sharecropper who introduced Williams to tennis on the public courts near Compton, LA. She turned pro in 1994, and has since won seven Grand Slam titles, including five Wimbledon championships, as well as four Olympic gold medals (three with her sister, Serena). Williams lives in Palm Beach, Florida.