Serena Williams in a match during the 2015 Hopman Cup in Perth, Australia on Jan. 10, 2015
Paul Kane—Getty Images
By TIME Staff
April 23, 2014

I first met Serena over a decade ago in Miami when I joined the Heat. Since then, I’ve watched her grow and dominate in her sport, overcoming adversity to win title after title. There is no doubt that she has made an incredible impact on the world of tennis, but it’s her determination to never give up that has always resonated with me.

Serena is a friend, but I also look up to her as a fellow athlete. I respect her relentless work ethic, focus, drive and discipline. I understand what it’s like to sustain injuries and the fight it takes to come back from them. I admire her ability to fight and how she has defied the odds with sheer determination and heart.

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