A TIME cover story from 2001 offered a glimpse at Serena Williams' still-to-come future
At the U.S. Open, starting Monday, Serena Williams will have the opportunity to make history with tennis’ always-elusive Grand Slam—victories in the four major tournaments all in the same year. That’s a huge deal for any athlete, but for Williams it could be especially so: as revealed in a New York Magazine cover story earlier this month, even though she’s at the top of her game the 33-year-old has her eye on what might come next.
There’s every indication that that next phase in Williams’ career will be to continue the work she’s already done in the world of fashion—which would be no surprise to anyone who read TIME’s 2001 cover story about Williams and her sister Venus. As the story revealed, the siblings were already taking their first steps toward a fashion career as they were first entering stardom:
They are up front about the fact that tennis is merely one aspect of their lives. They take the autumn off, for example, to attend a fashion design school located next to a strip mall in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. Because the ranking system of the Women’s Tennis Association (WTA) adds up the best 17 events over the previous 52 weeks, neither sister has a realistic shot at a No. 1 ranking. Still, Venus, who won Wimbledon in July, is ranked fourth, while Serena, who has played even less, is 10th. They are part-time players with a full-time presence.
…Along with Anna Kournikova, 20, who may be the most photographed woman in the world, the Williams sisters are celebrities as much as they are tennis players. “We’re two sisters. That’s new and exciting,” says Serena, sounding very much like a younger sister. And they act like sisters. Really close sisters. Besides living together, they usually share hotel rooms at tournaments. They sit next to each other in their classes. They want to start a clothing business together. When Venus loses her wallet, which is surprisingly often, Serena often finds it. Venus even sticks her nose in Serena’s mouth to find out what she ate. They make the Jolie siblings look estranged.
Read the full story from 2001, here in the TIME Vault: The Sisters vs. The World