Serena Williams and Sister Venus Credit Their Life to Their Role Model Older Sisters

Every tennis fan knows the names Venus and Serena Williams. The two tennis stars are two of the greatest players of this era — Serena, in particular, is likely the best player of all time, even if she’s also one of the most fined. Many fans know their story: They were trained from a very early age on how to dominate the game. But what some fans may not know is that one specific aspect of their upbringing may have shaped the athletes and women they became — and that’s their relationship with their older sisters. 

The tennis careers of Serena and Venus Williams

Serena has 23 career Grand Slam tournament victories. It’s hard to argue with anyone who calls her the greatest women’s tennis player ever. 2002 was a big year for the sisters, as Serena won the U.S. Open, Wimbledon, and the French Open.

Her opponent in each of those tournament finals? None other than her sister Venus.

Serena captured her career Grand Slam just a year later when she won the 2003 Australian Open.  Meanwhile, Venus has 49 career singles’ titles with nearly $42 million in career earnings. The two have become megastars and household names — so much so that they were able to become part owners of the Miami Dolphins.

Venus and Serena’s path to greatness

Serena Williams on Today - Season 68
Serena Williams | Mike Smith/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images

Serena and Venus were the youngest daughters of Richard and Oracene Williams. They had three other sisters in all.

The Williams’ moved from Saginaw, Michigan to Los Angeles, California when Serena was still an infant. The Compton neighborhood they lived in was a tough, crime-ridden place at the time.

Despite their rough surroundings, their father taught them to play tennis almost as soon as they could walk. Serena and Venus were prodigies, showing a high aptitude for tennis at an extremely young age. By the time they were preteens, they were competing in and winning tournaments with others in their age bracket. 

For two athletes who started so young and became so great, there’s no question they would have needed good role models to succeed. So who was it for them? Tennis stars of their era? Or athletes from other sports? 

If you ask the Williams sisters, the answer is none of the above. 

How Serena and Venus Williams credit their life to their role model older sisters

Serena and Venus have had two legendary tennis careers, so it would only make sense that people would want to know who their role models were. During a recent interview with supermodel Naomi Campbell on her YouTube chat, the two made it clear that they saw their older sisters as their role models. 

According to Venus, following their sisters was all about being the babies of the group: 

“Growing up, we were the youngest on the totem pole, so we just did everything that our sisters did…Thankfully we had good role models.”

According to Serena, the two were likely to do anything their sisters would: 

“If [my older sisters] were doing something different, I would have done it too.”

It just goes to show how important family and role models are to a child’s upbringing. The Williams sisters have each had wonderful tennis careers. Serena is likely the greatest while Venus has been one of the top players of her era.

Why were they able to accomplish that? Obviously because of their talent, but also because of their unending and tireless work ethic. That’s the type of quality you develop when you have a strong support system. 

It’s clear that Serena and Venus had that system in place. Since their sisters played such a pivotal role in their development as their role models, it seems as though they (and the tennis world) owe them a debt of gratitude.