Serena Williams is Back on Top

Serena Williams is Back on Top

The first lady of tennis was down, but never out. Glenn Minnis examines the triumphs, tragedies and resurgence of Compton's golden girl

by Glenn Minnis, July 10, 2012

Serena Williams is Back on Top

Serena Williams wins Wimbledon.

Photo courtesy of Julian Finney, Getty Images

"Well, I was in the studio with friends and I wanted to do something and so they said – do this and it was for me,” Serena Williams now says of the rap demo now heard round the world and once rumored to be her foray in the game.

“The next thing I know… I was a rapper, and so my backstabbing friends did that to me and so if I see them, I will act like a rapper---if you can get my drift.”

It’s the story of Serena Williams life--- old school style and sentimentality, missed with unbridling, impassioned and candid resolve. Given that, maybe, just maybe the current Vogue Magazine cover girl might want to reassess her future options. 

Say what you will about Williams, but the now 30-year-old unofficial first lady of the World Tennis Association keeps it real where her hard knock life is concerned.  Always has, over the course of a career that has netted upwards of $30 million in gross earnings and experienced all the volleys, peaks and valleys one might come to expect from someone so singularly committed over the course of two decades. And her dominance in England this past weekend, netting her fifth Wimbledon singles title attest to that. For good measure, she later teamed with big sister Venus to add yet another top honor in doubles.

"This one obviously is special to me because it's a huge comeback for me,” Williams said of arguably her most prominent victory in a career that seems full of them. “I’m as proud as I’ve ever been.” 

To think it all began with Williams father, Richard, marching her and older sister Venus down to the neighborhood park where he trained them on the finer point s of a game he, himself had never played. Almost overnight and largely sans many of the thought-to-be rudimentary tenements that go hand-and-hand with the game’s mastery, the two prodigies, “Ghetto Cinderellas” as their father adoringly termed them went from the debris-strewn courts of their Compton neighborhood to the pristine stage of Wimbledon’s spotlight. Along the way, there was no junior circuit, no prolonged or extended training regiments to speak of.

Still, Serena Williams was serving pro circuit competition by her 14th birthday. From there her history pretty much speaks for itself--- to the tune of 18 Grand Slam titles, 41 singles and 20 doubles championships, a pair of Olympic gold medals and countless player of the year awards. And to this day, she’s still coached by father and mother Oracene Price

I’m the woman I was born to be.

And in Serena’s mind, it all stems from a chance encounter. The way she recalls it her father was watching a TV match one day when he heard the announcer say the winner would make $40,000 in earnings. From that point on, the destiny of the Williams sisters destiny seemed charted for them.

But with Serena being Serena, could that ever really be? Even now, arguably the G.O.A.T. of the WTA, nationally recognized voice of the Nike and Gatorade brand, continues to evolve so much you never quite seem able to pigeonhole her.

Budding businesswoman, impassioned fashion designer and aspiring actor, Williams more recently has lent her megastar power to a co-owner partnership deal with the likes of LeBron James, Chris Paul and Amare Stoudemire for a natural sleep aid called Sleep Sheets, which purports to aid insomnia sufferers in returning to natural sleep patterns and habits.

In addition, Williams is also being billed to star in an upcoming episode of the Lifetime drama Drop Dead Diva, where she will play an attorney representing R& B star Brandy.

Of all her many endeavors, Williams’ heart seems most wrapped in the threads she creates while designing.  I was born to be a designer,” she said. “I don’t know how I know and just do the things I do…I just start sketching and I just know colors.”

Whatever her style or approach, Williams fashions and accessories have proven a big hit on the Home Shopping Network, where she offers a collection in which everything retails for less than $100.

 “Everything you get from me is great quality. I think for those prices and this quality, it’s a no brainer,” she said. Beyond that,  she attributes her success to being able to connect directly with consumers and share her enthusiasm with them in real-time. “I think on live television people really get to see my personality and how really I feel about clothes and fashion.”

Over the years, Williams’ newfound expertise has extended to her own court wear, including recently when she designed a baby blue, waist cinched tennis dress for Nike that she also donned at the 2011 Australian Open.“It really just makes your waist look like you have a Scarlett O’Hara waist, like a 14-inch waist,” she said. “My style in the beginning

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