Not many knew what to expect from Venus Williams in 2000. She had been a staple in the Top 5 for a few years already, but she missed the first four months of the year with tendinitis in both wrists, and her father, Richard, was even floating retirement rumors.
But she returned to the tour midway through the clay-court season, and after a few earlier-than-expected losses on the dirt she took it to a whole new level, going on a blistering 35-match winning streak that brought her six straight titles, including her first two majors at Wimbledon and the US Open, as well as the gold medal at the Sydney Olympics. In Sydney, she heroically battled past former No. 1s Arantxa Sanchez-Vicario and Monica Seles in three sets in the quarters and semis before overpowering then-up-and-comer Elena Dementieva in the gold medal match, 6-2, 6-4.
The 20-year-old was then asked what was next on her schedule.
“I’ll be picking up the pens and pencils and putting down the tennis racquet,” she said about returning to school. “I can’t miss more than three weeks—I don’t want to, either.”
After a few weeks she returned for one last tournament of the year, reaching the final of Linz before finally losing a match to Lindsay Davenport, 6-4, 3-6, 6-2. Venus’ 35 wins in a row in 2000 is still the longest women's tour-level winning streak since the start of 2000.
And speaking of records, Venus is the most accomplished tennis player in Olympic history, too. She has five medals: gold in singles and doubles in Sydney in 2000, gold in doubles in Beijing in 2008, gold in doubles in London in 2012 and silver in mixed doubles in Rio de Janeiro in 2016. She’s tied for most gold medals in Olympic history (Serena also has four) and for most overall medals in Olympic history (Kathleen McKane Godfree also has five).