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Why She’s a MAKER:The sports icon has been serving up inspiration ever since she stepped on the court as a teen. By age 17, she claimed her major win at the U.S. Open and by 2017 she set the record for earning the most Grand Slam titles—man or woman—in the Open era. In 2015, she was named Sports Illustrated’s Sportsperson of the Year, the first female to receive the award in nearly 20 years. “It was not just a win for me but for all women,” she says. “A man doesn’t have to have that award every year.”
The Women's Club:""When you’re breaking down barriers, there’s going to be moments where you’re not comfortable. It takes a team. It takes a village.” Legends like Billie Jean King and Chris Evert went “above and beyond” to help her. “They encouraged me to do better than them.Not to be on an equal level as them, but to go even higher.”
Power & Perseverance: When she first started playing on the court, “believe it or not I didn’t have any power. But I never gave up.” That resolve came from her father. “He wanted to make sure that we would be tough enough to handle lots of different situations that we may face in our lives.”
The Bigger Picture: In 2010, she developed blood clots bilaterally in her lungs, which reshaped her outlook on life. “There’s so much more to life than a sport. There’s family and there’s God and there’s a bigger picture.” Fully recovered, she returned to tennis in 2011 and just two years later, she reclaimed the No. 1 ranking in tennis. “I felt that I had been given a second chance.”
Love All: Off the court, Williams—who gave birth to daughter Alexis Olympia Ohanian, Jr. in September, 2017—advocates for education around the world and also opened the Yetunde Price Resource Center to benefit those affected by community violence in Compton, Calif., where she grew up. “I’ve won grand slams and I’ve won tournaments but some of my best memories [involve] doing something that gave back.”