What You Never Knew About Serena Williams

Whether or not you consider yourself a tennis fan, chances are, you've heard of Serena Williams. As of 2021, the American player has a total of 23 Grand Slam singles titles, the most of any player in history. Serena has been named the world No. 1 on eight separate occasions.

Serena began playing tennis as a child with her father alongside her older sister, Venus Williams, another legend of the sport. She went professional in 1995 and quickly became known for her power, stamina, and strength (via Britannica). In fact, she was eventually credited with transforming women's tennis (via The New York Times). Not only did she bring powerful serves to the women's game, she also became an international celebrity who could rival the likes of Andy Murray or Roger Federer. According to Statista, only 10% of Americans have never heard of her.

As one of the world's biggest tennis stars, Serena is used to having all eyes on her, both on and off the court. Eager to know more about her? Here are some things you never knew about Serena Williams.

Serena Williams considers her sister, Venus, to be her best friend and her greatest rival

Serena Williams grew up playing tennis alongside her sister, Venus Williams. From the very beginning, their rivalry has been the stuff of legends. Both sisters were exceptional players at the peak of their careers. Having two tennis champions emerge from one family was unprecedented. As one writer put it for The New York Times, it was "as improbable as one set of parents raising Picasso and Monet."

As Serena explained in her book "On the Line," her ongoing rivalry with her sister has helped to spur her on. "When we were growing up, it was a lot about Venus — it needed to be about Venus, because she was an incredible player," she wrote. "And that actually, being the little sister, the one that wasn't as strong, wasn't as good yet, gave me encouragement and the fight I have in my game" (via Jezebel).

While the pair have always fought to the death on the court, off the court, they couldn't be closer. According to The Guardian, the two even lived together in Florida and consider each other best friends. It sounds like Serena could never have become the player she is today without the support and rivalry of her sister.

These are Serena Williams' favorite outfits throughout her career

Serena Williams is known not only for her tennis, but also for her fashion. Over the years, she's always pushed the limits on what constitutes appropriate tennis outfits. She even launched her own fashion line in 2018. During an interview for New York Fashion Week, Williams revealed that she has had a few favorite outfits over the years (via People).

One of her favorite looks is all the way back from 2002: a denim mini skirt by Nike and a pair of high boots. However, two of her most favorite outfits, she said, were her Virgil Abloh Nike x Off-White tutu leotards that she wore during the 2018 U.S. Open (via Harper's Bazaar). "I kept all those dresses," she said, adding, "And sometimes I wear them."

We can hardly blame her — those tutus were stylish, elegant, and totally unforgettable. As Abloh said in a statement (via Business of Fashion), "I was trying to embody her spirit and bring something compelling and fresh to tennis." It's safe to say that those tutus did just that!

Serena Williams loves karaoke

It would seem that Serena Williams is a woman of many talents. Not only is she one of the world's best tennis players, she's also got a decent set of pipes. When The Guardian asked her to share a secret, Williams confessed, "I love karaoke." It seems there is a lot of truth to her statement. In 2016, Williams was filmed singing "Shake It Off" by Taylor Swift with fans. And, in 2019, Williams was seen in Palm Beach performing "Bodak Yellow" by Cardi B.

In 2021, Williams told W Magazine that her go-to karaoke track is "usually Bon Jovi ... maybe 'I Believe' — but really, anything in the 1990s realm." And, in a 2019 interview on Strahan & Sara, Williams went into more detail about her love of karaoke. Apparently, she tends to set up karaoke at her house parties. And, as she explained, her go-to song can actually depend on the crowd. Case in point: "I was doing karaoke the other day in California but way down south, and I was like, 'Okay, I'm going to sing Selena,'" she said.

This is what Serena Williams likes to eat

As one of the greatest athletes in the world, it should come as no surprise that Serena Williams is pretty careful about what she puts in her body. Before a match, Williams told Glamour, she tries to eat a combination of protein and carbs, but she often feels too nervous to get anything down. "I did have some turkey sausage and a baked potato before this last match," she said. When Williams isn't about to play, she's less strict with her diet. "I'm not going to deprive myself," she explained. So, she sometimes eats fries with lunch or chows down on pizza after a match.

As for Williams' favorite food, it sounds like tacos are a strong contender. As she once wrote on Facebook, "I want tacos. [Every day] I want tacos" (via Business Insider). Another favorite food seems to be chicken. In an interview with Sports Illustrated, she said her ideal last meal on earth would be fried chicken. And, in an interview with Bon Appetit, she gushed about her mom's chicken, rice, and gravy recipe. "That's my favorite meal from her or from anybody," she said.

Serena Williams has dabbled in acting over the years

As it turns out, tennis isn't the only thing Serena Williams thought about pursuing when she was young. As she explained to Oprah, she and her sister Venus Williams have always been interested in acting. Apparently, the young girls used to put on plays for their parents. "Serena was always the princess, and I was the warrior," Venus recalled.

Even as an adult, Serena has remained keen on acting. In fact, she's even done it professionally. She has appeared in "My Wife and Kids," "Street Time," "Law & Order," "The Division," "ER," "Drop Dead Diva," and several other productions. Plus, she's played herself in numerous shows and movies, including "The Simpsons," "Ocean's 8," and "Pixels," not to mention two Beyoncé music videos (via IMDb).

As Serena told Oprah, she's keen to do more acting, but that, alongside a professional tennis career, it's not always easy to find the time.

Serena Williams is a big fan of Maya Angelou

Serena Williams' favorite poet is Maya Angelou, a fact she revealed while accepting the 2015 Sportsperson of the Year Award. During her speech, she recited part of Angelou's poem "Still I Rise." That same year, Williams read the entire poem for a video for BBC Sport. Then, in 2017, Williams responded to racist comments made by Ilie Nastase with an Instagram post that included the Angelou quote from the same poem, "You may try to kill me with your hatefulness, but still like air, I rise."

In an interview with Glamour in 2016, Williams once again spoke about her favorite poet. She mentioned another of Angelou's poems called "Phenomenal Woman." "I appreciate the hardships she went through for our generation," Williams said. "I'm super influenced by the Black people that paved the way for us." It's clear that Angelou has been a huge influence for Williams throughout her journey as a Black woman in the public eye.

Serena Williams has always been interested in fashion

As most Serena Williams fans probably know, fashion is a big part of the tennis star's life. Her outfits on the court have been assessed by fashion critics for years. She even has a fashion brand called S by Serena. In many ways, Williams' tennis career actually helped her achieve another big goal of hers — entering the fashion world.

As she told Glamour, fashion has always been one of her greatest loves. Even as a child, she was fascinated by clothes. "My mom taught me how to sew when I was super young; I used to make clothes for my dolls," she said. In 1999, Williams even went to fashion design school and fell in love with pattern design. "I was the person, if you need help with your patterns, you come to me and I would help you out," she recalled. It's amazing that not one but two of Williams' goals have become reality.

Serena Williams didn't realize she was good at tennis until she was almost an adult

Even though Serena Williams is an ultra-talented tennis player, she didn't initially think she had what it takes to make it as a pro. In fact, she only realized her talent when she was 17 years old. As she told Sports Illustrated, it wasn't until she actually started beating other pros that she started to think that she might have something special. "I remember I was on a win streak. I won Paris, I won Indian Wells and I lost the finals to Venus at the Lipton," she said. "Even though I lost the match, I went on to win the U.S. Open that year [for her first Grand Slam title]. I feel like it gave me confidence."

Of course, her family always knew she had what it takes to become exceptional. As The Guardian reported, Williams' father had told his wife his premonition that their daughters would transform the sport — and, of course, he was right.

Serena Williams is BFFs with Meghan Markle

Serena Williams certainly has some friends in high places. One of her best friends is none other than the Duchess of Sussex herself, Meghan Markle. When Markle and her husband, Prince Harry, sat down for their famous interview with Oprah, Williams tweeted in support of her friend, writing, "Meghan Markle, my selfless friend, lives her life — and leads by example — with empathy and compassion." In an interview for Shine Series later that week, Williams said, "I just think that she is the strongest person I know. I don't know anyone else that could handle everything on such a global scale the way that she's had to handle things that are just untrue, minute after minute."

The pair first became friends while playing flag football for a celebrity event in 2014. Markle even wrote about their friendship on her blog The Tig, saying, "We hit it off immediately, taking pictures, laughing through the flag football game we were both playing in, and chatting not about tennis or acting, but about all the good old fashioned girlie stuff. So began our friendship" (via E! News). Since then, they've always been there for each other. Talk about BFF goals.

Here are some of Serena Williams' favorites things

Want to get to know Serena Williams a little better? Well, a good place to start is with her favorite things. As the tennis player told Sports Illustrated in 2013, she has plenty of favorites. Her favorite childhood memory, for instance, is playing make believe with her siblings. "I'm really girly so I always had to be the princess. I was the princess, Venus was the wizard," she recalled.

Her favorite phone brand, she said, had to be Apple. "We only go iPhone now," she said, explaining she'd done an Apple commercial, before adding, "We don't do BlackBerry" (now that's a blast from the past). Her favorite TV shows at the time were "Arrow" and "The Good Wife." She said her favorite candy bar is the Whatchamacallit, simply because she's always loved the name. As for her favorite smell? As she told The Guardian, it's a mix of lemongrass and rose. And, as she told AFP News Agency, her favorite color is gold. Pretty fitting for a queen of the courts, if you ask us.

Serena Williams adores raising her daughter

On September 1, 2017, Serena Williams gave birth to her daughter, Alexis Olympia (via The New York Times). So far, Williams has absolutely adored motherhood. As she told The Guardian, her daughter is "the greatest love of [her] life."

In an interview for Vogue, Williams confessed that she'd been afraid to become a mother because she is such a perfectionist. However, once the baby arrived, she realized that being a mother was a dream come true. "We're not spending a day apart until she's [18]," she said. "Now that I'm 36 and I look at my baby, I remember that this was also one of my goals when I was little."

In another interview for Today, Williams spoke about how she was raising her daughter to be free and "wild." "She's curious, she has fun, she's learning different things, and so for me, I love that she wants to explore and kind of just wants to be herself." It sounds like Williams is a fantastic mother — Alexis Olympia certainly is a lucky little girl.

Serena Williams is fluent in French

As if Serena Williams wasn't cool enough already, it turns out, she's completely fluent in French! That is seriously impressive. As USA Today reported, the star has earned herself plenty of French fans for consistently speaking French during on-court interviews at the French tournaments. Apparently, she owes her bilingualism to her French coach and her apartment in Paris. In 2014, Williams gave an interview in French at the Roland Garros and even said that Paris was the most beautiful city in the world — and that it had the best restaurants in the world. During the interview, the reporter even complimented her on her French.

According to The New York Times, Williams had hoped to start giving interviews in French at the 2012 Roland Garros competition, but she never got the chance, as she lost in the first round.

As she told some reporters, getting up the nerve to speak in French wasn't easy. "It's way, way more nerve-racking than playing tennis," she said (via USA Today). Based on her French interviews, she has nothing to worry about — she sounds like a natural!

This is how Serena Williams spends her money

Serena Williams certainly has some cash to burn. After all, winning just one grand slam will make you millions of dollars richer — and Williams has won 23 over the course of her career. Nevertheless, Williams tries to be frugal — for the most part, that is. In a 2020 interview with People, Williams explained that saving money was important to her. "I usually invest my funds. I am the most boring [spender] ever," she said. In fact, Williams confessed that she actually finds it hard to treat herself.

When Williams does spend money, though, it's either on her daughter or on basic, practical items. As she went on to explain, her most frequent purchases include tennis balls, resistance bands, beats headphones, an indoor bike, exercise mats, massage guns, and tools for muscle relaxation. Based on her spending habits, it's pretty clear that Williams is focused on two things and two things only — tennis and motherhood.

Serena Williams wants to focus on motherhood after she retires

Serena Williams turned 39 in 2020. With her 40th birthday quickly approaching in September 2021, she knows that her tennis career won't last forever. And while she will be sad to put down the racket, she has a lot to look forward to. As she told Vogue, "There's something really attractive about the idea of moving to San Francisco and just being a mom." FYI: Her husband is based in Silicon Valley, California, where the pair bought a house in 2019.

While Williams clearly visualizes her future, she isn't quite ready to dive into it just yet. "I absolutely want more Grand Slams. I'm well aware of the record books, unfortunately. It's not a secret that I have my sights on 25 [grand slams]." It sounds like Williams isn't afraid of her career ending, but, even at nearing 40, she's still setting herself some pretty big athletic goals.