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In Serena Williams, A Generation Of Black Players Saw A Legend "Who Looked Like Me"

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In Serena Williams, A Generation Of Black Players Saw A Legend "Who Looked Like Me"

NEW YORK, NEW YORK - AUGUST 29: Serena Williams of the United States celebrates against Danka Kovinic of Montenegro during the Women’s Singles First Round on Day One of the 2022 US Open at USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center on August 29, 2022 in the Flushing neighborhood of the Queens borough of New York City. (Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images)

Julian Finney/Getty Images

Serena Williams dominated tennis for the better part of two decades. Her athleticism and aggressive style changed the way the women's game is played. And she inspired a generation of young Black players who followed in her footsteps.

Coco Gauff was one of them. At 18 years old, she was born five years after Williams' first Grand Slam singles title. Today, she's ranked 12th in the WTA rankings.

"Growing up, I never thought I was different," she said, "because the number one player in the world was somebody who looked like me."

As Williams plays in what may be the final matches of her career, in the U.S. Open, Chanda Rubin of Tennis Channel reflects on Williams' career and her legacy.

This episode also features reporting on the Williams family's time in Compton, California, from NPR's Danny Hajek.

In participating regions, you’ll also hear a local news segment to help you make sense of what’s going on in your community.

Email us at considerthis@npr.org.

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