With five Olympic gold metals between them, the Williams sisters are still making headlines for both tennis and women’s sports alike. Venus, 31, and Serena, 30, were recently named two of ESPNW’s Top 40 Female Athletes of the Past 40 Years. The list is a part of ESPN’s “The Power of IX” initiative, a celebration in light of the 40th anniversary of Title IX, which promotes gender quality among college sports. 

Venus, who made the list at No. 21, holds 21 Grand Slam titles: 12 in doubles, two in mixed doubles and seven in singles. Thanks to her 129-mph record-breaking serve, Venus became the first Black woman in the world to be ranked No. 1 in the Open era.

Serena, who ranked at No. 10, holds a total 27 Grand Slam titles – more than any other male or female active player. She’s best known for her 2002 Slam streak, where she held titles for Wimbledon and the French, U.S. and Australian Opens all at once.

The Williams sisters’ have revolutionized tennis. With their strength and speed, other players have had to change the way they train to compete with the power duo. 

But one of their most valuable contributions to women’s sports has been the fight for equal pay among female athletes. Both sisters serve on the WTA Player Council and Venus is the founder and ambassador for the WTA-UNESCO Gender Equality Program, which addresses worldwide gender issues. 

A daily countdown of the top female athletes will be revealed on SportsCenter leading up to the Title IX anniversary on June 23. 


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