Clive Brunskill/Getty Images

2015 Sportsperson
of the Year

The 2015 Sportsperson of the Year fell short of the Grand Slam in 2015, but she continues to make a case as the sport’s GOAT (Greatest Of All Time). With wins at the Australian Open, French Open and Wimbledon, Serena is now within one major victory of tying Steffi Graf’s Open era mark. Below, we look back on each and every one of Serena’s Grand Slam wins.
1999 U.S. Open
Jamie Squire/Getty Images

Lasting Memories

Road to the Title

ROUND Opponent Score
R128 Kimberly Po-Messerli (USA)6–1, 6–0
R64Jelena Kostanic Tosic (CRO)6–4, 6–2
R32Kim Clijsters (BLR)4–6, 6–2, 7–5
R16Conchita Martínez (ESP)4–6, 6–2, 6–2
QFMonica Seles (USA)4–6, 6–3, 6–2
SFLindsay Davenport (USA)6–4, 1–6, 6–4
FMartina Hingis (SUI)6–3, 7–6

From the Vault

SL Price on 1999 U.S. Open

“I didn't know what to do,” Martina Hingis said after Serena blasted her off the court in the title match. “I felt lost out there. I didn't know if Serena was going to hit to my forehand or backhand. I couldn’t read her game.”

Fun Facts

  • Serena also won the doubles title with her sister Venus, their second Grand Slam doubles championship.
  • Serena became the first African American woman to win a Grand Slam in the Open Era.
  • Steffi Graf retired just 16 days before the start of the 1999 U.S. Open.

The Moment

Mark Sandten/Bongarts/Getty Images
2002 French Open
Phil Cole/Getty Images

Lasting Memories

Road to the Title

ROUND Opponent Score
R128 Martina Suchá (SLO)6–3, 6–0
R64Dally Randriantefy (MD)6–2, 6–3
R32Janette Husárová (SLO)6–1, 6–3
R16Vera Zvonareva (RUS)4–6, 6–0, 6–1
QFMary Pierce (FRA)6–1, 6–1
SFJennifer Capriati (USA)3–6, 7–6 , 6–2
FVenus Williams (USA)7–5, 6–3

From the Vault

Jon Wertheim on 2002 French Open

“Coming in, people may have thought that this was our worst surface,” said Serena of the perception surrounding the Williams sisters and clay at Roland Garros, “but I think we showed that we can play as well on clay as on anything else.”

Fun Facts

  • This was the first Grand Slam victory for Williams en route to the media-dubbed 2002-03 “Serena Slam.”
  • Before 2002, neither Williams sister had made it past the quarterfinals at Roland Garros.
  • This final was just the third time Serena had beaten Venus in eight meetings.

The Moment

Mike Hewitt/Getty Images
2002 Wimbledon
Simon Bruty for Sports Illustrated

Lasting Memories

Road to the Title

ROUND Opponent Score
R128 Evie Dominikovic (AUS)6–1, 6–1
R64Francesca Schiavone (ITA)6–3, 6–3
R32Els Callens (BLR)7–6, 7–6
R16Chanda Rubin (USA)6–3, 6–3
QFElena Likhovtseva (RUS)6–2, 6–0
SFJustine Henin (BLR)6–3, 6–2
FVenus Williams (USA)7–6, 6–3

From the Vault

Jon Wertheim on 2002 Wimbledon

While Serena asserted after the tournament that her game and Venus’s are “so close right now,” it’s quite clear that the little sister has become the best player in women’s tennis.

Fun Facts

  • A man allegedly stalking Serena was arrested after he crashed his bicycle into a police camera.
  • Serena and Venus combined for 47 unforced errors, less than half as many as they committed in the French Open final.
  • Serena achieved the No. 1 WTA ranking with her win over Justine Henin.

The Moment

Simon Bruty for Sports Illustrated
2002 U.S. Open
Al Bello/Getty Images

Lasting Memories

Road to the Title

ROUND Opponent Score
R128 Corina Morariu (USA)6–2, 6–3
R64Dinara Safina (RUS)6–0, 6–1
R32Nathalie Dechy (FRA)6–1, 6–1
R16Dája Bedáňová (CZE)6–1, 6–1
QFDaniela Hantuchová (SLO)6–2, 6–2
SFLindsay Davenport (USA)6–3, 7–5
FVenus Williams (USA)6–4, 6–3

From the Vault

SL Price on 2002 U.S. Open

“It’s not that I thought I could win all three [Grand Slam titles],” Serena said after the title match. “I just said, ‘I’m tired of losing. I’m not going to lose anymore.’ Life was passing me by.”

Fun Facts

  • Serena wore a catsuit throughout, saying , “I’m a firm believer that if you look bad on court you won’t play well.’
  • This was the first time since 1979 that the Open featured an all-American final (women’s and men’s).
  • Serena didn’t drop a single set en route to the U.S. Open title.

The Moment

Chuck Solomon for Sports Illustrated
2003 Australian Open
Mark Dadswell/Getty Images

Lasting Memories

Road to the Title

ROUND Opponent Score
R128 Émilie Loit (FRA)3–6, 7–6, 7–5
R64Els Callens (BLR)6–4, 6–0
R32Tamarine Tanasugarn (THA)6–1, 6–1
R16Eleni Daniilidou (GRE)6–4, 6–1
QFMeghann Shaughnessy (USA)6–2, 6–2
SFKim Clijsters (BLR)4–6, 6–3, 7–5
FVenus Williams (USA)7–6, 3–6, 6–4

From the Vault

Jon Wertheim on 2003 Australian Open

Despite the sisters’ similar games, Serena has a superior quotient of nasty. “Serena is meaner,” her father Richard put it years ago. This, as much as anything, was the difference in the Serena-Venus final.

Fun Facts

  • This was Serena’s fourth straight Grand Slam victory, completing the “Serena Slam” across 2002-03.
  • A day after winning the title, Serena flew to San Diego in time for the Super Bowl kickoff.
  • This was the fourth straight Grand Slam to feature a Williams sisters final.

The Moment

David Callow for Sports Illustrated
2003 Wimbledon
Simon Bruty for Sports Illustrated

Lasting Memories

Road to the Title

ROUND Opponent Score
R128 Jill Craybas (USA)6–3, 6–3
R64Els Callens (BLR)6–4, 6–4
R32Laura Granville (USA)6–3, 6–1
R16Elena Dementieva (RUS)6–2, 6–2
QFJennifer Capriati (USA)2–6, 6–2, 6–3
SFJustine Henin-Hardenne (BLR)6–3, 6–2
FVenus Williams (USA)4–6, 6–4, 6–2

From the Vault

SL price on 2003 Wimbledon

“This is Wimbledon,” Serena said of her mindset while playing against her injured sister in the final. “God knows if I would get this opportunity again. If anything, I fought harder.”

Fun Facts

  • In 2003, Wimbledon changed its long-standing custom about curtseying and bowing before the Royal Box.
  • Future World No. 1 Maria Sharapova made her Wimbledon debut in 2003 at the age of 16.
  • The Wimbledon victory gave Serena six straight finale wins over Venus.

The Moment

Simon Bruty for Sports Illustrated
2005 Australian Open
Chris McGrath/Getty Images

Lasting Memories

Road to the Title

ROUND Opponent Score
R128 Camille Pin (FRA)6–1, 6–1
R64Dally Randriantefy (MD)6–3, 6–0
R32Sania Mirza (IND)6–1, 6–4
R16Nadia Petrova (RUS)6–1, 3–6, 6–3
QFAmélie Mauresmo (FRA)6–2, 6–2
SFMaria Sharapova (RUS)2–6, 7–5, 8–6
FLindsay Davenport (USA)2–6, 6–3, 6–0

From the Vault

Jon Wertheim on 2005 Australian Open

Williams looked, for better and worse, every bit like the player who completed the Serena Slam two years ago. Her game is still mottled with unforced errors … but her basic strategy remains devastatingly effective.

Fun Facts

  • Ranked No. 10 at the time, Jennifer Capriati withdrew from the tournament and never played in another Grand Slam.
  • 2005 marked the 100th anniversary of the Australian Open, which was founded in 1905.
  • Serena won 12 of the final 15 games against Lindsay Davenport in the final.

The Moment

David Callow for Sports Illustrated
2007 Australian Open
Cameron Spencer/Getty Images

Lasting Memories

Road to the Title

ROUND Opponent Score
R128 Mara Santangelo (ITA)6–2, 6–1
R64Anne Kremer (LUX)7–6, 6–2
R32Nadia Petrova (RUS)1–6, 7–5, 6–3
R16Jelena Janković (SRB)6–3, 6–2
QFShahar Pe’er (ISR)3–6, 6–2, 8–6
SFNicole Vaidišová (CZE)7–6, 6–4
FMaria Sharapova (RUS)6–1, 6–2

From the Vault

Jon Wertheim on 2007 Australian Open

Defeat is simply not a consideration for her; even in the most adverse conditions she projects an unshakable confidence. “Like I always say, when I’m playing well, it doesn’t matter who they are,” Serena says. “It’s difficult for anyone to beat me.”

Fun Facts

  • Serena entered the Australian Open ranked No. 81 on the WTA; the victory moved her up to No. 14.
  • 2007 marked the first time the Australian Open utilized the Hawk-Eye system for line calls.
  • Serena played just five tournaments leading up to the 2007 Aussie Open.

The Moment

Clive Brunskill/Getty Images
2008 U.S. Open
Don Emmert/AFP/Getty Images

Lasting Memories

Road to the Title

ROUND Opponent Score
R128 Kateryna Bondarenko (UKR)6–1, 6–4
R64Elena Vesnina (RUS)6–1, 6–1
R32Ai Sugiyama (JPN)6–2, 6–1
R16Séverine Brémond Beltrame (FRA)6–2, 6–2
QFVenus Williams (USA)7–6, 7–6
SFDinara Safina (RUS)6–3, 6–2
FJelena Janković (SRB)6–4, 7–5

From the Vault

Jon Wertheim on 2008 U.S. Open

The morning after the final Serena was back on the practice court—a veritable tennisy Williams. “I feel so young and energized, like I have a new career,” Serena says. “If I don’t practice, then it’s like my mind goes nuts.”

Fun Facts

  • Serena reclaimed the No. 1 ranking with the victory, her first time atop the WTA rankings since August 2003.
  • Serena was the first American to win the US Open singles title since Andy Roddick in 2003.
  • Serena won 14 straight sets en route to the US Open title.

The Moment

Timothy A. Clary/AFP/Getty Images
2009 Australian Open
Quinn Rooney/Getty Images

Lasting Memories

Road to the Title

ROUND Opponent Score
R128 Yuan Meng (CHN)6–3, 6–2
R64Gisela Dulko (ARG)6–3, 7–5
R32Peng Shuai (CHN)6–1, 6–4
R16Victoria Azarenka (BLR)3–6, 4–2 (R)
QFSvetlana Kuznetsova (RUS)5–7, 7–5, 6–1
SFElena Dementieva (RUS)6–3, 6–4
FDinara Safina (RUS)6–0, 6–3

From the Vault

Jon Wertheim on 2009 Australian Open

By the final Serena had “caught a gear,” as the Aussies say, dialing in her serve and finding the range on her ground strokes, particularly on service returns. Williams was so dominating that, Dinara Safina said, “I was just a ballboy on the court today [in the final].”

Fun Facts

  • Serena left Melbourne as the most financially successful female athlete in history: $23.5 million in prize money and counting.
  • From the ’04 US Open through the ’09 Aussie, Serena was 45-0 at Slams when she won the first set.
  • During the tournament, on-court temperatures approached 140°.

The Moment

Bob Martin for Sports Illustrated
2009 Wimbledon
Simon Bruty for Sports Illustrated

Lasting Memories

Road to the Title

ROUND Opponent Score
R128 Neuza Silva (POR)6–1, 7–5
R64Jarmila Gajdosova (BRI)6–2, 6–1
R32Roberta Vinci (ITA)6–3, 6–4
R16Daniela Hantuchova (SLO)6–3, 6–1
QFVictoria Azarenka (BLR)6–2, 6–3
SFElena Dementieva (RUS)6–7, 7–5, 8–6
FVenus Williams (USA)7–6, 6–2

From the Vault

Jon Wertheim on 2009 Wimbledon

Serena may not sweat her results in Stuttgart or Strasbourg, but when the majors roll around, she plays as though losing takes its toll in blood. “[She’s] two completely different players,” says Elena Dementieva, “when she’s playing Grand Slams or she’s playing other tournaments.”

Fun Facts

  • With his victory over Andy Roddick, Roger Federer became the all-time leader in men’s Grand Slam singles titles.
  • Despite the win at Wimbledon, Serena left England ranked No. 2 behind Dinara Safina.
  • 2009 marked the debut of the Centre Court roof, which was used twice.

The Moment

Carl De Souza/AFP/Getty Images
2010 Australian Open
Ryan Pierse/Getty Images

Lasting Memories

Road to the Title

ROUND Opponent Score
R128 Urszula Radwanska (POL)6–2, 6–1
R64Petra Kvitova (CZE)6–2, 6–1
R32Carla Suárez Navarro (SPA)6–0, 6–3
R16Samantha Stosur (AUS)6–4, 6–2
QFVictoria Azarenka (BLR)4–6, 7–6, 6–2
SFLi Na (CHN)7–6, 7–6
FJustine Henin (BLR)6–4, 3–6, 6–2

From the Vault

Jon Wertheim on 2010 Australian Open

No one could come up with a single word that adequately captured Serena’s almost pathological refusal to lose. The fallback clichés—tenacious, persistent, dogged—don’t come close to doing it justice.

Fun Facts

  • A day before the Aussie several players skipped practice for a charity match for victims of the Haiti earthquake.
  • The Williams-Henin final marked the first three-set Grand Slam women’s final since Wimbledon in 2006.
  • The Australian Open is also known as the Grand Slam of Asia/Pacific.

The Moment

John Donegan/AP
2010 Wimbledon
Julian Finney/Getty Images

Lasting Memories

Road to the Title

ROUND Opponent Score
R128 Michelle Larcher de Brito (POR)6–0, 6–4
R64Anna Chakvetadze (RUS)6–0, 6–1
R32Dominika Cibulková (SLO)6–0, 7–5
R16Maria Sharapova (RUS)7–6, 6–4
QFLi Na (CHN)7–5, 6–3
SFPetra Kvitová (CZE)7–6, 6–2
FVera Zvonareva (RUS)6–3, 6–2

From the Vault

Jon Wertheim on 2010 Wimbledon

Serena demonstrated yet again that there has never been a better female player. Yes, that’s right. Strip away the nonsense and the breaches of etiquette and there’s only this: Serena Williams is the GOAT, the Greatest of All Time.

Fun Facts

  • When Queen Elizabeth II visited, Serena’s match was banished to the back courts. Officials later insisted it wasn’t a slight.
  • During the tournament Serena set the Wimbledon women’s record for aces with 89.
  • The tournament hired an official poet, Matt Harvey, for the first time in 2010.

The Moment

Matthew Stockman/Getty Images
2012 Wimbledon
Glyn Kirk/AFP/Getty Images

Lasting Memories

Road to the Title

ROUND Opponent Score
R128 Barbora Strýcová (CZE)6–2, 6–4
R64Melinda Czink (HUN)6–1, 6–4
R32Zheng Jie (CHN)6–7, 6–2, 9–7
R16Yaroslava Shvedova (KAZ)6–1, 2–6, 7–5
QFPetra Kvitová (CZE)6–3, 7–5
SFVictoria Azarenka (BLR)6–3, 7–6
FAgnieszka Radwańska (POL)1–6, 7-5, 2-6

From the Vault

SL Price on 2012 Wimbledon

“I never dreamed of being here again,” Serena said, eyes filling with tears, of her Wimbledon triumph after two years of health emergencies and on-court self-immolations.

Fun Facts

  • Andy Murray who made the men’s final, was aiming to become the first British man since 1936 to win a major singles trophy.
  • Serena became the oldest woman to win a major title since Martina Navratilova won at age 33 in 1990.
  • Serena totaled 102 aces in 2012, surpassing her previous tournament record of 89.

The Moment

Erick W. Rasco for Sports Illustrated
2012 U.S. Open
Mike Stobe/Getty Images for USTA

Lasting Memories

Road to the Title

ROUND Opponent Score
R128 Coco Vandeweghe (USA)6–1, 6–1
R64MJ Martínez Sánchez (SPA)6–2, 6–4
R32Ekaterina Makarova (RUS)6–4, 6–0
R16Andrea Hlaváčková (CZE)6–0, 6–0
QFAna Ivanovic (SRB)6–1, 6–3
SFSara Errani (ITA)6–1, 6–2
FVictoria Azarenka (BLR)2–6, 6–2, 5–7

From the Vault

SL Price on 2012 U.S. Open

After rolling Victoria Azarenka in the first set of the weather-delayed U.S. Open final, Serena abruptly looked, well, old … Then she rose again. “I never, never quit,” Serena said.

Fun Facts

  • Serena dominated Azarenka with her serve, winning 73 percent of first-serve points, 75 percent of her second-serve points.
  • Serena’s match against Azarenka was the first three-set women’s final at the US Open since 1995.
  • Severe weather added another day to the schedule for the fifth straight year.

The Moment

Elsa/Getty Images
2013 French Open
Julian Finney/Getty Images

Lasting Memories

Road to the Title

ROUND Opponent Score
R128 Anna Tatishvili (GEO)6–0, 6–1
R64Caroline Garcia (FRA)6–1, 6–2
R32Sorana Cîrstea (ROU)6–0, 6–2
R16Roberta Vinci (ITA)6–1, 6–3
QFSvetlana Kuznetsova (RUS)6–1, 3–6, 6–3
SFSara Errani (ITA)6–0, 6–1
FMaria Sharapova (RUS)6–4, 6–4

From the Vault

Jon Wertheim on 2013 French Open

In 2002, Serena won the French Open for the first time. She was 20 then. There was no Facebook, no iPhone. Eleven years later she is still ruling the game. “I can just relax,” she said after the victory, “and do what I want to do here.”

Fun Facts

  • This was the first time in 18 years that the No. 1- and No. 2-ranked players faced off against each other in the French final.
  • This was Serena’s second French Open title; her first was 11 years earlier against sister Venus.
  • Serena’s finale win marked her 31st straight victory, the longest single-season streak in 13 years.

The Moment

Michel Spingler/AP
2013 U.S. Open
Darren Carroll for Sports Illustrated

Lasting Memories

Road to the Title

ROUND Opponent Score
R128 Francesca Schiavone (ITA)6–0, 6–1
R64Galina Voskoboeva (KAZ)6–3, 6–0
R32Yaroslava Shvedova (KAZ)6–3, 6–1
R16Sloane Stephens (USA)6–4, 6–1
QFCarla Suárez Navarro (SPA)6–0, 6–0
SFLi Na (CHN)6–0, 6–3
FVictoria Azarenka (BLR)7–5, 6–7, 6–1

From the Vault

SL Price on 2013 U.S. Open

“If I never win another Grand Slam, I’m not going to be mad. I never thought I would win eight,” Serena says. “Now I’m at 17 and I’m, like, Wow. Everything—everything—is a bonus.”

Fun Facts

  • Serena only lost 16 games in six matches before the final; she would then drop 13 games to Azarenka in the final match.
  • As result of her victory, Serena became the first woman to top $50 million in career earnings.
  • This was the first time in her career that Serena won two consecutive U.S. Opens.

The Moment

Clive Brunskill/Getty Images
2014 U.S. Open
Al Tielemans for Sports Illustrated

Lasting Memories

Road to the Title

ROUND Opponent Score
R128 Taylor Townsend (USA)6–3, 6–1
R64Vania King (USA)6–1, 6–0
R32Varvara Lepchenko (USA)6–3, 6–3
R16Kaia Kanepi (EST)6–3, 6–3
QFFlavia Pennetta (ITA)6–3, 6–2
SFEkaterina Makarova (RUS)6–1, 6–3
FCaroline Wozniacki (DNK)6–3, 6–3

From the Vault

SL Price on 2014 US Open

It’s hard to describe a No. 1 as coming back from the dead. But you couldn’t be blamed, just two months ago, for wondering if Williams’s career was on life support. Then, once again, Williams clambered out of a hole.

Fun Facts

  • Throughout the tournament, Serena never dropped more than three games to any single opponent.
  • With her victory, Serena tied Chris Evert with six all-time wins at the US Open.
  • Serena earned $4 million for her win, a record at the time in tennis.

The Moment

Chris Trotman/Getty Images for USTA
2015 Australian Open
Lee Jin-man/AP

Lasting Memories

Road to the Title

ROUND Opponent Score
R128 Alison Van Uytvanck (BLR)6–0, 6–4
R64Vera Zvonareva (RUS)7-5, 6–0
R32Elina Svitolina (UKR)4–6, 6–2, 6-0
R16Garbiñe Muguruza (SPA)2–6, 6–3, 6–2
QFDominika Cibulková (SVK)6-2, 6–2
SFMadison Keys (USA)7-6, 6-2
FMaria Sharapova (RUS)6–3, 7–6

From the Vault

Jon Wertheim on 2015 Australian Open

The 2015 Australian Open was Serena-as-Boss. Early on, she looked sluggish. Then the Boss came to work. She has now been to six Australian Open finals. She has never been the runner-up.

Fun Facts

  • The Australian Open finale victory marked Serena’s 16th-straight win over Russian rival Maria Sharapova.
  • The victory gave Serena six women’s singles Grand Slam titles, an Open Era record.
  • Serena spent just 625 minutes on court during her run to the title.

The Moment

Quinn Rooney/Getty Images
2015 French Open
Julian Finney/Getty Images

Lasting Memories

Road to the Title

ROUND Opponent Score
R128 Andrea Hlavackova (CZE)6–2, 6–3
R64Anna-Lena Friedsam (GER)5–7, 6–3, 6–3
R32Victoria Azarenka (BLR)3–6, 6–4, 6–2
R16Sloane Stephens (USA)1–6, 7–5, 6–3
QFSara Errani (ITA)6–1, 6–3
SFTimea Bacsinszky (SUI)4–6, 6–3, 6–0
FLucie Safarova (CZE) 6–3, 6–7, 6–2

From the Vault

Jon Wertheim on 2015 French Open

“I was literally in my bed shaking,” Serena said of her battle with the flu during the tournament. No matter. Even at a compromised level, she is still able to beat the vast majority of her opponents.

Fun Facts

  • Serena dropped 68 games and five sets at the 2015 French Open, the most she had lost en route to any of her Slams.
  • The women’s final required a deciding set for just the third time in 15 years.
  • Serena battled through flu-like symptoms throughout the tournament.

The Moment

Clive Brunskill/Getty Images
2015 Wimbledon
Bob Martin for Sports Illustrated

Lasting Memories

Road to the Title

ROUND Opponent Score
R128 Margarita Gasparyan (RUS)6–4, 6–1
R64Tímea Babos (HUN)6–4, 6–1
R32Heather Watson (GBR)6–2, 4–6, 7–5
R16Venus Williams (USA)6–4, 6–3
QFVictoria Azarenka (BLR)3–6, 6–2, 6–3
SFMaria Sharapova (RUS)6–2, 6–4
FGarbiñe Muguruza (SPA)6–4, 6–4

From the Vault

Jon Wertheim on 2015 Wimbledon

Though never at her best, Serena did what was necessary to avoid the upset in the final. Finally, she could address this quest for the Grand Slam. “One more to go,” she told her entourage with a wink. “But I try to live in the moment, and I’m still very much here.”

Fun Facts

  • Serena also has won five doubles titles (all with sister Venus) and one mixed doubles title (with Max Mirnyi) at Wimbledon.
  • Only one player has two wins over Serena at Wimbledon: Venus (2000, 2008).
  • At 33 years and 289 days, Serena is the oldest women’s Slam champ in the Open era.

The Moment

Julian Finney/Getty Images