It seems that Serena Williams has been winning Grand Slam tournaments for as long as Bafana Bafana have been prematurely exiting tournaments. This weekend saw her notch up a record equaling 18th Grand Slam title as well as featuring in this inspirational Powerbeats2 Wireless advertisement. 

Together with her titles in doubles tennis, Serena has notched up 33 major titles in her career, meaning that her success story should yield relevant lessons to anyone who’s serious about reaching the top of their field.

Make the most of your talent

Serena Williams is arguably the most gifted player in women’s tennis history, thanks to her rare blend of speed, power, and skill.  Experts acknowledge that her serve power and accuracy is unmatched and her forehand and backhand strokes are universally feared, but it’s her ability to convert the talent and skill that she has that sets her apart from other talented could-have-beens.

Since turning professional 19 years ago Serena has managed to convert her talent into a lengthy record breaking career. This contrasts players from her generation who retired relatively early such as Martina Hingis and Justine Henin.

Take the road less traveled

When Serena was still an amateur, her  father withdrew her from junior tennis tournaments, afraid that she and her sister Venus might burn out. Later her father withdrew the sisters from a prestige tennis academy and carried on coaching them himself using knowledge he’d garnered from tennis books and videos.

The Williams sisters’ success shows that you don’t need to have attended prestigious schools or universities to dominate your chosen field.

A setback is just an opportunity for a comeback

Serena’s 19 year-long professional career may seem like one long march to victory. But there have been numerous setbacks including struggles with depression and life threatening sickness. In 2007 she was by her own admission overweight and underprepared for the Australian Open, she was also unseeded and ranked 81 in the world with Nike threatening to end their sponsorship deal with her, Yet Serena went on to win the tournament.

photo credit: Marianne Bevis via photopin cc