RALEIGH, N.C. (WTVD) -- On Tuesday, Tennis superstar Serena Williams announced that the 2022 U.S. Open would be the final tournament of her illustrious care
While the numbers are impressive, 23 grand slam singles titles, 4 Olympic gold medals, World #1 for 319 weeks, it's her impact and what she meant to the game off the court that have people in the Triangle talking.
"Credit Serena to making tennis cool," said North Carolina Central tennis player Hannah Gaines. "The exposure that she brought to tennis and making tennis mainstream like your other sports, football, basketball. She's a superstar."
Arriving on the professional scene back in 1995 from Compton, California, she instantly became someone to emulate in minority communities.
"I watched her grow. From the 14-15 years old with the beads, to becoming a young mother," explained Latonya Hargrove, secretary of the Ebony Racquet Club of Raleigh. "She did it with class, and she did it in a way to make black and brown people like me proud of the skin that we're in.
Gaines, a senior at NC Central, says a moment that changed the trajectory of her life was seeing Serena in person at an event in Miami, Florida. "It was just like how some people feel about seeing their favorite artist in concert, I was star struck."
Hargrove has two children finishing up high school, who like Gaines, may play tennis in college. Williams' profession and professionalism-inspiring a few generations. "Would they have that scholarship opportunity had not I witnessed Serena, her life, and her legacy? I don't think so."