American professional tennis player Venus Ebony Starr Williams turns 41 today, June 17. Born in Lynwood California, Williams is a former world No. 1 in singles and doubles and generally regarded as one of the all-time greats of women’s tennis. She has been credited with ushering in a new era of power and athleticism on the women’s professional tennis tour.

Williams has been ranked world No. 1 by the Women’s Tennis Association for 19 weeks (11 in singles and 8 in doubles). In 2002, she was the first African American woman to reach the No. 1 ranking in singles in the Open Era and the second all-time since Althea Gibson.

Venus Williams’ rise to the top

Early life and career

Venus Williams’ talents were apparent by the age of 7 when a professional local tennis player named Tony Chesta spotted her and quickly identified her potential in the sport. By…

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