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Serena Williams
Williams has earned a reported $440m over her legendary career

Serena Williams started her rise before she was born.

Richard watched a women's tennis match on TV in 1979 and saw Virginia Ruzici win $40,000, which was $4,000 more than his yearly salary.

He told his wife that they needed to have two more girls to become tennis players. I didn't know much about tennis, but I thought we could teach them how to win the US Open.

She arrived 15 months after her sister Venus. The pair turned pro in the mid 1990s.

Rick Macci, the Florida-based coach who helped guide them through their development years, said there was a rage inside the two little kids.

The people were ready. I used to call it when they were young. They're going to be the world's number one team.

The big breakthrough was made by Venus in 1999. The 19-year-old had seven titles to his name. She was in the top three.

First, Serena would get there. A future sporting legend was announced after her win at the US Open.

She is almost done.

Last month she wrote that she hated it. I do not want it to end.

It already is. Williams can't match her own legacy on the court with her 41st birthday approaching.

One more stop is on the way for her. She will play in her last US Open at the site of her first Grand Slam title.

The signs were there for Williams when he was in New York in 1999. She was always on top of things. A 17 year old girl is poised for greatness.

Short presentational grey line

She was knocked out in the third round of the 1998 US Open.

Things appeared different this year. She breezed through the first two rounds against two other people.

The father predicted that his daughters would meet in the final. He said that they were too fast for the other girls. They are too strong for them.

The Williams family had a big mouth, said Hingis.

Serena didn't like it.

She said that she could say whatever she wanted. She smiled a lot. If you just look at it, I don't think my mouth is big.

Venus and Serena Williams
Venus and Serena Williams won the women's doubles title in New York in 1999 - adding to their French Open success that year

Williams didn't seem to let up in the third round.

When Williams won, skipping across the court and throwing her arms in the air, the crowd erupted in joy.

The Williams family noticed a chill in New York after Serena and Venus became dominant.

According to Price, Venus and Serena's mother said that the US Open crowds were not behind them for a long time.

The white audience with black players made them feel different in their own tournament. They were black women in a mostly white world.

The country-club crowds of professional tennis were used to a different kind of player. The women stood out.

Venus said at her 1997 US Open debut that she was black. Everything about me isn't the same. Don't look at the facts.

Two years after her 1999 victory over Clijsters, Williams met her again in the final at Indian Wells, a tournament in southern California seen by some as the unofficialfifth Grand Slam.

Williams was booed by the crowd. There were rumors that Richard had engineered Venus' withdrawal from the semi-finals against her sister.

Richard claimed in his book that racial slurs were used at him and his daughters. The crowd applauded when Williams said he didn't serve. They booed when she won. For the next 13 years, she would not visit Indian Wells.

She asked how many people she knew that jeered a 19-year-old. I'm just a child.

Richard Williams with daughters Venus and Serena, pictured in Compton in 1991
Richard Williams, posing with daughters Venus (left) and Serena (right) in Compton in 1991

The depth of Williams' talent was becoming obvious at the US Open in 1999.

They met in the fourth round. The Spaniard had won Wimbledon.

The years of pro experience seemed to favor Martinez, who used his strength and power to win the first set. Williams unleashed a series of punishing groundstrokes in the second set.

Williams could flip it according to her former trainer. She is the upper, upper tier of elite.

Williams claimed the match after serving an ace for the 12th time that day.

Williams' resilience was on display, her stubbornness to lose that soon became her trademark, and her ability to fight her way back.

"Serena is better because she is meaner," said Richard Williams. It was the perfect way to go about it. She had a fire that got her through many matches.

Williams had a harrowing delivery of her daughter in September of last year. An emergency C-section, a life-threatening pulmonary embolism, and two more surgeries left her immobile for the first six weeks of her baby's life.

She had been playing tennis since she was a toddler.

"I'll never forget that phone call, when she was finally cleared by her doctor to play," said Rye, who worked with her through her recovery.

That was very emotional for her.

It was quite a come back. Williams made it to the finals of Wimbledon and the US Open despite still being a mother and suffering from post-partum depression.

Many on-court flameouts were caused by her burning drive.

The incidents reflected more on Williams than on sexism. Her temper paled in comparison to the legendary meltdowns of male players.

When Williams was docked a game at the US Open final, Roddick said it was the worst refereeing he had ever seen.

He said that he's never gotten a game penalty for saying worse.

Naomi Osaka, then 20, of a magic moment: her first major win, and against her childhood idol, was robbed by the lengthy dispute between Williams and Ramos. Both Williams and Osaka cried.

"You're just like 'here we go again, don't do this,' because I was behind the umpire's chair at the time," Price says. There is something about Serena being Serena.

Serena Williams and Martina Hingis embrace after the former's US Open victory in the final of 1999
Williams and Hingis embrace at the net after the US Open final

It would be the extent of her later dominance that you forgot.

She faced off against Monica Seles in the quarter-finals of the 1999 US Open.

Seles took the first set after being stabbed by a fan in 1993

Williams dominated the remainder of the match. She spun her arms around in the air to get a look at the crowd after she won. Richard held up his index finger and said "number one, baby" as he stood in the stands.

The same thing happened in the semi-finals when Williams faced Lindsay Davenport.

The score was tied in the third set. She was broken by Williams to give her a 4-3 lead. Davenport earned five break points, but Williams held on. She won the next two games. She was in a big final.

She hit a huge, huge serve when I had break points. I didn't get a second serve, it was slower than 105mph.

Williams told assembled media that she was taking pictures of herself from national newspapers.

She said that she touches everyone. People want to see me. I'm not responsible for them. Go and see Serena.

Serena Williams poses with the US Open trophy
Williams has 23 Grand Slam singles titles - one short of Margaret Court's record - and her 1999 US Open victory was the first of six in New York

The summer of 1999 was when Richard Williams predicted that Serena would be the better tennis player.

Venus lost to Hingis in the semifinals. While Serena walked on the court at Arthur Ashe to play, Venus sat in the stands and watched.

It was a good match-up between Williams and Hingis.

Hingis is a five-time Grand Slam winner.

The first set was 6-3. She looked like an unstoppable force. She led 6-3 in the second. She lost two championship points.

Hingis said that she was reborn when she missed the match points.

Williams looked tired by then. She wiped the sweat from her mouth while standing behind the baseline. She stared blankly at the ground in front of her and bounced the ball a few more times than usual before serving.

Hingis won the next three games to take a 5-5 lead and add to a growing number of unforced errors.

Hingis relaxed into a smile for the first time. Williams had to fight off a set point in her service game before she was able to take the first set.

Williams regained control from there. Her strokes improved as the intensity increased.

Williams told reporters after the match that she never loses when she gets into a tie-break. I feel like I cannot lose.

Hingis looked at grim concentration and amusement at the same time.

She looked like she might laugh and shake her head as if she too was amazed by the power of Williams.

Serena was the most competitive player I've ever met. Hingis dislikes playing her. "Because of the big points, the big moments, you could never think she would slow down." I had a chance here and there, but she just hit an ace.

It was very frustrating for me, but she was Serena Williams.

Williams was serving for the title at the time.

She was patient. After closing her eyes for a moment, she made her way to the baseline. She was already self-assured and smaller than she is now. The greatest female tennis player of all time isn't fully formed.

The final rally was over before Hingis sent the ball out.

Williams stumbled and held her chest. The people were loud.

She became the first black American since 1975 to win a major singles title and the first black American woman since 1959 to win a major singles title.

The moment that launched his daughter's career was captured by Richard.

Serena Williams has been the leader. She has been at this level for a long time.

The decline is joining the rest of humanity.