Classic Photos of Venus and Serena
Young tennis prodigies were no strangers to the covers of Sports Illustrated and other popular magazines in the early '90s. But the spotlight was cast even brighter on Venus and Serena, due largely to their humble beginnings in California's rough and tumble Compton neighborhood. Here the two pose with Jennifer Capriati.
All five of the Williams sisters were exposed to tennis at an early age, but Venus and Serena seemed to display the most interest and strongest prospects. Here the sisters stand with President Ronald Regan and his wife, Nancy.
Citing the intense pressure of the youth tennis circuit system, Venus' father pulled her out of junior competitions. Some criticized the move, wondering how Venus would grow without playing against other skilled athletes.
Growing up in Compton, the Williams sisters worked tirelessly to hone their skills.
Despite his desire to see Venus succeed in tennis, Richard Williams told Sports Illustrated in 1991 that he still wanted his daughter to have a real childhood. "Venus is still young. We want her to be a little girl while she is a little girl. I'm not going to let Venus pass up her childhood. Long after tennis is over, I want her to know who she is."
In 1992, Serena, then 10, and Venus, then 12, stunned the tennis world when they each won their single divisions in the Southern California Junior Sectional Championships.
After several years living in Compton, Richard relocated the family to Palm Beach Gardens, Fla., to enroll Venus and Serena in Rick Macci's renown tennis academy. Macci had trained such pro superstars as Jennifer Capriati and Tommy Ho.
Venus was the first of the Williams sisters to make her mark on the tennis world. Armed with a staggering serve that topped 100 mph, Williams turned pro at 14 and went on to defeat 25-year-old and 59th ranked Shaun Stafford in her first pro contest, the Bank of the West Classic in 1994.
At the tender age of 15, Venus signed a five-year, $12 million endorsement deal with Reebok. In 2000 she signed another deal with the sneaker giant, this time raking in $40 million. The deal was one of the most lucrative endorsements for a female athlete in history.
Venus quickly achieved another milestone in 1997, as she became the first unseeded women's tennis player to reach the finals of the U.S. Open in nearly 40 years. Unfortunately, Venus would ultimately lose the championship to Martina Hingis. It would be another three years before she would snag her first Grand Slam title.
In 1998, the sisters teamed up for the NBA's annual Celebrity 2-ball competition during All-Star weekend. Venus teamed up with funnyman Jamie Foxx, while Serena was partnered with actor Daryl Mitchell.
With more than two dozen Grand Slam titles between them, millions in endorsement deals and legions of fans, Venus and Serena Williams are one of sports' most dynamic duos.
Venus and Serena became the first sisters to win professional titles in the same week in 1999. The duo scored victories in Oklahoma City and Rome on the same day in February of that year.
Venus and Serena, pictured here with Lindsay Davenport and Monica Seles, helped lead the U.S. in its 4-1 victory against Russia in 1999.
The sisters got in touch with their patriotic side during a 2000 photo shoot for SI.
Though the sisters spent their early years in California, Florida is where Serena and Venus call home these days.
The turn of the century proved to be for Venus and Serena as the two beat out Lisa Raymond of the United States and Samantha Stosur of Australia 6-2, 6-2 for the Grand Slam title in women's doubles. The win came after Venus had beaten out her younger sister in the singles final.
Despite their undeniable skills and stockpile of titles, the Williams sisters have been accused of slacking off when pitted against each other in competition. Venus and Serena have vehemently denied those claims.
By 2000 Venus had won nine professional singles titles and Serena five.
Venus and Serena capped off a busy year in 2001 by carrying the Olympic torches in the leadup to the 2002 Games in Salt Lake City.
The sisters faced off against each other in the 2002 French Open. Serena upstaged her big sister en route to her first French Open title.
Venus Williams received an Honorary Degree of Citation of Achievements from Howard University. She was so moved by the gesture that she reportedly began to cry during her speech in front of the 2002 graduating class.
At 17, Serena became the first African-American woman since Althea Gibson to win a Grand Slam title.
Pictured with Laura Harring and David Coulthard, Serena helped present the 2003 Comeback of the Year Award to soccer phenom Ronaldo. Serena would receive the Laureus World Sportswoman of the Year award several years later.
Venus and Serena have both been ranked as the sport's top player by the Women's Tennis Association. Venus claimed the honor in 2002, only to be ousted by Serena that same year. It marked the first time sisters had been ranked in the top 2 at the same time.
Serena's appearance on the Tonight Show with Jay Leno coincided with her inclusion in the SI Swimsuit issue.
In 2002, Venus took her talents off the court to start her own interior design company, V Starr Interiors, based in Jupiter, Fla. Williams has said that once her tennis career ends she would like to focus on her design business.
Seen here playing with her two dogs, Bambi and Jackie, Serena struggled through 2005 as a variety of injuries caused her to have her first non-Top 10 finish since 1998.
Venus became the lowest ranked woman to ever win Wimbledon when she took the title in 2007. Here she is with fellow winner Roger Federer.
The Williams sisters haven't limited their focus to just tennis. In 2009, the pair purchased a stake in the Miami Dolphins, becoming the first female African-Americans to own a stake in an NFL franchise. Here Serena poses with reality stars Kim and Khloe Kardashian and rapper Common.
Though the sisters may have missed out on individual gold medals, they scored their second consecutive gold medal in the women's doubles at the 2008 Beijing Olympics, beating out the Spanish pair of Anabel Medina Garrigues and Virginia Ruano Pascual 6-2, 6-0.
Serena is seen here enjoying a White Sox-Yankees game with former-Bronx bomber Reggie Jackson.
Serena and Venus at the end of their exhibition match at La Macarena bullring in Medellin.
Richard and Venus Williams congratulate Serena after she won Wimbledon for the fifth time, which marked her first major title in two years.
Serena and Venus celebrate after defeating Andrea Hlavackova and Lucie Hradecka of Czech Republic in the doubles gold medal match at the London Olympic Games.
Serena and Venus play table tennis at a "Welcome to Melbourne" event hosted by the Olsen Hotel in Melbourne, Australia.
Serena Williams victorious in 2009 with Rosewater Dish trophy after winning the Finals match against Venus at All England Club.
Both Venus and Serena have said their mother, Oracene Price, has played a huge role in shaping them. "It’s almost like they were raised on the court," Price has said of her two daughters with Richard Williams.
Venus and Serena hold up their trophies after the finals of the Lipton Tennis Championships. Venus defeated her sister in the finals, 6–1, 4–6, 6–4. It was her third title of the year and 10th of her career.
Despite the number of tough matches the two have played, Venus and Serena have always supported each other at matches, like here, when Venus watched her sister win her 14th Wimbledon title after Venus lost in the first round.
The Williams sisters have both spent time as the top-ranked women's singles players. At one point they held the No. 1 and No. 2 spots and were the No. 1 women's doubles team.
Serena was on hand for Venus's pro debut at Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum Arena in October 1994. The family, including mom Oracene, are pictured here before that event.
Venus and Serena, pictured here with Lindsay Davenport and Monica Seles, helped lead the U.S. in its 4-1 Federation Cup victory against Russia in 1999.
Serena, Tim Tebow and Venus at the 2012 Vanity Fair Oscar Party.
Serena Williams hugs Venus after winning their quarterfinal match at the U.S. Open on Sept. 8, 2015.
Serena and Venus Williams pose for a photo before their quarterfinal match at the U.S. Open on Sept. 8, 2015.