“Luck has nothing to do with it, because I have spent many, many hours, countless hours, on the court working for my one moment in time, not knowing when it would come.” ~ Serena Williams, Professional Tennis Player

Summary: Serena Williams began intensive tennis training at age 3. She won her first major championship in 1999 and completed the career Grand Slam in 2003. Along with her record-breaking individual success, Williams has teamed with sister Venus to win a series of doubles titles. In 2017, she won her 23rd Grand Slam title at Wimbledon, defeating her older sister Venus in the Australian Open. With her 23rd win, the tennis superstar surpassed Steffi Graf’s record and captured the world number one ranking.

Nationality: African-American

Industry: Tennis

Q: Regarding your status as a role model, given that you’re a black woman often in the media spotlight. Who did you want to be like when you were young? on blog.ted.com

A: Steffi Graf, Monica Seles, Pete Sampras. I would see what they did. I noticed that Steffi and Monica wouldn’t really talk to the other players — they were just so focused. I would see Pete Sampras and the technique he did. As a young girl, I wasn’t a star. People would say, “Oh, she’s talented, she’s athletic.” No, I really wasn’t. I was small for my age — I got taller when I got older. That’s one of the reasons I fight so hard and work.