Saluting supreme Serena Williams as she plays 1,000th match: A look at tennis icon’s most significant wins

Serena Williams 2016 Wimbledon champion

In a career full of huge milestones, Serena Williams hits another at the Italian Open on Wednesday.

Her second-round match against Nadia Podoroska in Rome will be the 1,000th match of what has proven to be a historic career.

Ahead of her match against last year’s surprise French Open semi-finalist, we take a look at some of her most significant wins.

1999 Indian Wells final: def Steffi Graf 6-3, 3-6, 7-5

Serena was just 17 years old when she faced Graf, then a 21-time Grand Slam singles champion, in the final in Indian Wells in 1999.

The German had won a three-set meeting between the two in Sydney earlier that season but on this occasion it was the American who prevailed, winning what was her biggest title to date.

After winning the French Open later that year, Graf would retire that summer whilst Serena would take her place as the dominant force in the game.

1999 US Open final: def Martina Hingis 6-3, 7-6

Still aged 17, Serena burst into super-stardom by beating her great rival Hingis to win a first Grand Slam singles title at Flushing Meadows.

Hingis was a five-time major singles winner and world No 1 and was the favourite for the final against the seventh seed.

However, it was Williams who would prevail in straight sets, winning the first of 23 major singles titles and six US Open titles.

2002 French Open final: def Venus Williams 7-5, 6-3

After winning the US Open in 1999, Serena found herself in the shadow of sister Venus in the next few seasons, with the elder Williams winning Olympic gold and back-to-back Wimbledon and US Open titles.

Their meeting in the 2002 French Open was their second in a Grand Slam final and this time it was Serena who prevailed, winning her first Grand Slam singles title in two and a half years.

Most significantly, this win started the first ‘Serena Slam’ as she would beat her sister in the next three major events to hold all four Grand Slam titles.

2007 Australian Open: def Maria Sharapova 6-1, 6-2

Serena hadn’t won a title since the 2005 Australian Open when she approached the 2007 event at Melbourne Park.

However, despite being ranked at 81 in the world, she progressed to the final and crushed Sharapova in just 63 minutes to win an eighth Grand Slam singles title.

This win not only propelled her back to the top of the game, but would also come to define her dominance in her rivalry against Sharapova.

2011 Eastbourne International R1: def Tsvetana Pironkova 1-6, 6-3, 6-4

A first-round win at Eastbourne may not seem significant on paper, but this is one of the most important wins of her career.

Serena had been out the game for nearly a year and had almost died after suffering a pulmonary embolism.

The American returned to court and ground out a hard-fought win against Pironkova, starting a comeback that would make her the most dominant player over the coming seasons.

2014 US Open final: def Caroline Wozniacki 6-3, 6-3

After winning a 17th Grand Slam singles title at the 2013 US Open, all eyes were on whether she could tie Martina Navratilova and Chris Evert on 18.

Serena struggled in the first three Slams of 2014, but reached the final in New York without dropping a set, setting up a meeting against good friend Wozniacki.

The Dane fought valiantly but Serena eventually eased to victory, winning an historic 18th major and starting what would become a second ‘Serena Slam.’

2016 Wimbledon final: def Angelique Kerber 7-5, 6-3

Seventeen years after her two meetings against Graf, Serena equalled the German’s record of 22 Grand Slam singles titles at Wimbledon.

After final losses to Kerber at the Australian Open and Garbine Muguruza at Roland Garros, it was third time lucky for the American she beat Kerber in straight sets to win Grand Slam No 22

It was her seventh title at Wimbledon, her favourite Slam, and a win that perhaps secured her place as the greatest WTA player of all time.

2017 Australian Open final: def Venus Williams 6-4, 6-4

For the first time since Wimbledon in 2009, the Williams sisters’ faced off in a Grand Slam final.

Unbeknown to many, Serena was in the early stages of pregnancy but still prevailed in straight sets to win an historic 23rd Major singles title.

It was a win that pushed her ahead of Graf to hold the Open Era record outright, and was a seventh title Down Under.

2020 ASB Classic final: def Jessica Pegula 6-3, 6-4

Serena’s victory in Auckland against compatriot Pegula may not seem too significant straight away, but when you look closer it was a huge moment for her.

It is – to date- the first and only WTA title she has won since returning to the WTA Tour in 2018 following the birth of her daughter Olympia.

Images of Serena holding the trophy and Olympia together amazed tennis fans across the globe, and it is still possible that more success could come Serena’s way as she continues to target success 1,000 matches into her career.

Follow Oli Jefford on Twitter @odicksonjefford.

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