Serena Williams’ first main-draw win 23 years on: The numbers behind a legend

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Serena Williams won her first main-draw match on this day 23 years ago. It has been some career since.

At a time when the world is drastically different from the norm, there is something rather comforting about the familiarity of Serena Williams remaining a global phenomenon.

While the coronavirus pandemic has had a significant impact on how we go about our normal lives, some things do not change and Williams’ enduring quality is proof of that.

The American great has 23 grand slam singles titles, the most in the Open Era and one shy of Margaret Court’s overall record.

It began, professionally, on this day a remarkable 23 years ago when Williams defeated Elena Likhovtseva at the Ameritech Cup Chicago for her first main-draw win on the WTA Tour.

At that same tournament, Williams went on to defeat stellar names Mary Pierce and Monica Seles before falling to the brilliant Lindsay Davenport in the semi-finals.

A stunning period of dominance has followed in two decades since and below we take a look at some of the best numbers behind a genuine legend.

73 – Williams has won 73 WTA singles titles so far. Her first was in Paris in 1999, with her most recent coming in Auckland in January 2020.

33 – The 37-year-old has reached an incredible 33 grand slam singles finals, losing just 10 of those.

5 – Williams has finished the year ranked as world number one five times, in 2002, 2009, 2013, 2014 and 2015.

39 – Including 14 in doubles and two in mixed doubles, Williams has won 39 major titles – the joint-third highest total since the Open Era began.

1 – Williams is the only player, male or female, to have completed a Golden Slam in both singles and doubles competitions. As well as triumphing at every slam and the Olympics as a singles competitor, Serena has achieved the same feat alongside sister Venus in doubles.

7 – Williams has seven titles at the Australian Open and Wimbledon, with six more at the US Open, and three at Roland Garros.

319 – Having spent 319 weeks as world number one, Williams is third behind Martina Navratilova (332) and Steffi Graf (377).

2 – She has held all four grand slam trophies on two occasions – in 2002-03 and 2014-15.

98 – In total, Williams has appeared in 98 singles finals on the WTA circuit.

186 – Williams spent 186 weeks as world number one between February 2013 and September 2016, equal with Graf’s record from August 1987 to March 1991.

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