As was often the case to this point in her life, the younger sister was following in the footsteps of her elder.
Nearly one year to the day prior, 14-year-old Venus Williams had made her pro tennis debut.
Now, on this day in 1995, it was 14-year-old Serena Williams’ turn. The tournament was the Bell Challenge, a WTA event played in Quebec City, Canada.
Serena had honed her game for years, first on public courts in Southern California, more recently at various facilities throughout Florida. Serena’s father Richard had initially entered his daughters in several junior tournaments. At one point, Serena was the No. 1-ranked 10-and-under player in Florida. But then, Richard curtailed Serena and Venus’ competitive careers. His belief was that it was much healthier to hone skills and maintain balance in life than to engage in a junior tennis environment that he viewed as toxic.
Unquestionably, Serena felt ready to compete. "I've practiced tennis since I was 4, and I practiced to play on the professional tour level, not the amateur, not the Tier 3 or 4 events," Serena said in a New York Times article. "I feel like I'm more ready than ever to get out here and compete with the professionals.”