Serena Williams Covers TIME Magazine's Double Issue
Greatness is something she knows well. No tennis player, male or female, has won more major championships in the Open Era—the period starting in 1968 when the Grand Slam tournaments allowed professionals—than Serena Williams. Williams earned 10 of those 23 titles after the age of 30, a time when most players retire or plummet in the rankings. But for all that Williams accomplished on the court, it’s what she has meant off the court that makes her the most consequential athlete of the 21st century, full stop. She, along with older sister Venus, took over a country-club sport with resistance to a pair of Black sisters from Compton, Calif., baked into its DNA.
"Confidence and self-belief. And teaching other Black kids, in particular Black girls, they can do it too. No one has ever been able to tell such an inspiring, authentic story. You live through my mistakes. You live through my ups, you live through my downs. The surgeries, and the comebacks. And it’s also a tale of never letting anyone write your story. A lot of people can relate to that. Always be authentically you. Own who you are. And love you. It’s a big tale of self-love."
Writer: Sean Gregory
Since joining TIME in 2002, Gregory has written profiles of a wide range of athletes, including Usain Bolt, LeBron James, Tim Tebow, Novak Djokovic and Maria Sharapova. Gregory wrote TIME’s 2010 cover story on the concussion crisis in football and has written enterprise features on the Penn State football child-sex scandal, baseball in the Dominican Republic, the recruiting of preteen athletes by major college sports programs and the competitiveness of amputee golfers. Prior to joining TIME, Gregory worked at the Associated Press; WFAN, New York City’s top all-sports radio station; and Sports Illustrated. He also spent three years working for a major financial-services company in New York.
Photographer: Paola Kudacki
Argentinian photographer/ director Paola Kudacki graduated as a graphic designer at Pan-American of Art and Design in Buenos Aires. From an early age she was passionate about painting and drawing which was an output for her imagination and creativity. Paola creates portraits that connect intimately with the subject, building a character and conveying a story or an emotion in a single moment. Kudacki’s attention to the smallest of details enabled a seamless transition to directing moving image and she has created film and stills campaigns for Nike, Pantene, Cover Girl, Puma, Tamara Mellon and the Metropolitan Opera. Paola is currently in New York.
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