All her life, Serena Williams has followed her sister Venus Williams. She tagged along onto the tennis courts of Compton where her older, taller and athletically-gifted big sister received the applause and accolades of Dad and Mom and the attention of coaches.
She wanted to play tennis like her sister. Serena lived and breathed, trying to be just like Venus.
Everyone associated with the sisters soon recognized their immense potential as their father oversaw every aspect of the their education and their development on the tennis courts. When Venus led the way into professional tennis, Serena followed.
Like most younger sisters, however, Serena was not content to remain in the shadow of sister Venus. As the stronger and more gifted athlete, Serena soon overtook her big sister on every surface except, perhaps, grass.
Conflict exists between sisters, especially those closest in age. They compete for attention at home, in school and in social settings. It is human nature.
But these two sisters competed on some of the largest tennis stages of the world, and the natural conflict between sisters became complicated, at times, by Venus' overwhelming need to look out for her sister and by Serena's internal guilt in defeating her sister so publicly.
Ultimately, the sisters reconciled their public rivalry inside their private closeness by being great partners on court in doubles and even greater cheerleaders for each other on court.
With Venus’ recent announcement that she has Sjogren’s Syndrome, Serena is now playing for herself and for Venus––until Venus can once again play for herself.
One of the goals providing impetus for Serena are her 13 career singles Grand Slam triumphs and her ambition to win No. 14.
Winning the 2011 US Open will give the younger Williams sister her next Slam trophy––dedicated to sister Venus.
On a road to the top of women's tennis that began in 1999 as Serena won her first slam title at the US Open at age 17, take a look at how far the teenager from Compton has come in 12 years.