Twelve years ago today—for the first time during the Open Era—an African American woman claimed the title of No. 1 tennis player in the world. That historic moment belongs to tennis legend Venus Williams.
On February 25, 2002 Venus sat atop the tennis world. The intimidation of her searing serves, powerful ground strokes and unmatched speed had players defeated long before they stepped onto the court.
For years, the only woman who could match that power and speed was one who had been built from the very same blueprint—Serena.
Fast-forward 12 years, Venus Williams is a seven-time Grand Slam champion, four-time Olympic gold medalist, owns 45 career singles titles, and has been ranked No.1 three separate times.
Many consider Venus to be the best grass court player of her generation. Off the court, her accomplishments include advocacy for equal prize money for women in tennis, and a thriving sports clothing company.
In 2011, Sjogren's syndrome, an autoimmune disease with potentially debilitating effects, temporarily sidelined Williams and seemed to put a damper on her career. But don't ever count a Williams sister out. Venus recently came roaring back in top form, claiming her 45th career title at the Dubai Championships Saturday.
At age 33, Williams plans to contend in the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio. Ever evolving and striving, the tennis legend once said during an interview last July with talk show host Katie Couric, "I'm getting better all the time."
Spoken like a true legend.
Kevin Don Porter is a CBS local contributor and the author of the mysteries OVER THE EDGE and MISSING—both available on Amazon.com. Visit his website at www.kevindonporter.com. Friend him on Facebook and Goodreads, and follow him on Twitter: @kevindonporter.