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34 Reasons Why We Love Serena Williams, For Her 34th Birthday

Long live the queen of the (tennis) court.

Saturday is an important day in the sports world. No, it's not the Super Bowl. Or the Wimbledon championship match. Or the Masters. Instead, Saturday, Sept. 26, 2015, marks the 34th birthday of one Serena Williams -- 21-time Grand Slam winner, two-time Serena Slam crown holder and the G.O.A.T. of the women's tennis world.

Calendar-year Grand Slam or not, Williams has had a remarkable season. So to commemorate Queen Serena's special day, we put together 34 of the reasons why we love her.  

  • 1 Because she gave this response when a reporter asked her why she wasn’t smiling
    YouTube/Serena Williams Videos
    (Start at 5:30 in the video.) “Um, it’s 11:30. To be perfectly honest with you, I don’t want to be here. I just want to be in bed right now, and I have to wake up early to practice, and I don’t want to answer any of these questions, and you guys keep asking me the same questions, so it’s not really making it super enjoyable. Just being honest.”
  • 2 Because she wears the best hats after winning Wimbledon
    YouTube
     
  • 3 Because she, somehow, got known-automaton Novak Djokovic to dance and be happy after they both won Wimbledon
  • 4 Because she was just 21 when she notched her first Serena Slam
    What is a Serena Slam, you ask? It's when Williams wins the four major tournament championships -- the Australia Open, the French Open, Wimbledon and the U.S. Open -- in consecutive fashion.
  • 5 Because she said this prior to speaking with a group of young women in Lagos, Nigeria on that same public service tour:
    "We were able to break the [mold] and win a lot of grand slams and change the face of tennis ... when tennis was very dominat
    Anadolu Agency via Getty Images
    "We were able to break the [mold] and win a lot of grand slams and change the face of tennis ... when tennis was very dominated by white people. It doesn't matter what your background is and where you come from, if you have dreams and goals, that's all that matters."
  • 6 Because on July 7, 2012, she managed to win both the Wimbledon singles title (her fifth, because of course), and the Wimbledon doubles title, playing with her sister
    Instagram
  • 7 ... and because she won that singles title by tallying four consecutive aces (!) in the final set
    YouTube
  • 8 Because she always finds the silver lining. And, often, her silver lining is a pretty damn good one
    In July, when asked about her bid for the 2015 calendar-year Grand Slam, she said: “Worst case scenario, I have another Serena Slam.” That's right -- and it's her second one at that.

    Mic drop.
  • 9 Because even John McEnroe called her “the greatest player … that ever lived”
    <a href="http://espn.go.com/espnw/news-commentary/article/13201089/hold-your-breath-waiting-serena-williams">High praise</a>&
    Eugene Gologursky via Getty Images
    High praise from another great.
  • 10 Because even after severely spraining her ankle in the middle of a match in 2012, she simply refused to lose
    YouTube
    She was forced to withdraw from the tournament due to the seriousness of the injury. After she won the match.
  • 11 Because she's never afraid to take a dance break in the middle of a workout
  • 12 ...or in the middle of a locker room
  • 13 Because shot-location execution like this is pretty much a norm for her
  • 14 Because she danced right after she won an Olympic gold medal
  • 15 Because she’s inspiring even the youngest tennis fans to want to be like her
    YouTube
  • 17 Because her tennis-celeb selfie game is better than yours
    Instagram
    Together, Williams and Roger Federer have won 38 Grand Slam titles. Not bad.
  • 18 ... or anyone else’s, for that matter
    Instagram
    The male and female No. 1s, Novak Djokovic and Williams.
  • 19 Because her service game is also most definitely better than yours
    Steffi Graf <a href="http://espn.go.com/espnw/news-commentary/article/12739719/stars-serve-praise-serena-williams-biggest-wea
    Steffi Graf explained: "Her serve is phenomenal ... She has so much force, strength. And the variety -- even if it's a little off -- her first serve and kick serve is tremendous."
  • 20 Because of this one-legged forehand that she just happened to execute on clay
    Go to 0:40 for some Grand Slam final magic.
  • 21 Because she inspired us with this video
  • 22 Because she manages to keep balls in play even while showing off some serious gymnastics skills
    <a href="https://cdn-images-1.medium.com/max/800/0*8Uz7oVGAtG63E5GX.">Splits for days.</a>
  • 23 Because she’s just one major championship away from tying Steffi Graf for the most Grand Slam titles in female tennis history
    Graf, center, has 22. Williams will look to match and eclipse that record next year.&nbsp;
    Evan Agostini via Getty Images
    Graf, center, has 22. Williams will look to match and eclipse that record next year. 
  • 24 Because she won the first of those Grand Slams when she was just 17, at the 1999 U.S. Open
    After winning her first at age 17, she has collected 20 in the last 17 years.
    New York Daily News Archive via Getty Images
    After winning her first at age 17, she has collected 20 in the last 17 years.
  • 25 Because she may or may not be dating Drake
    And she <a href="http://www.eonline.com/news/698930/drake-celebrates-the-opening-of-his-restaurant-and-serena-williams-was-th
    Jean Catuffe via Getty Images
    And she may or may not care who knows. Drake was seen cheering on Williams at Wimbledon and the U.S. Open, pictured above, this year.
  • 26 Because she cares. A lot
  • 27 Because she once chose to practice her serve by hitting oranges, not tennis balls
    <a href="http://nymag.com/thecut/2015/08/serena-williams-still-has-tennis-history-to-make.html">According to New York Magazin
    Vaughn Ridley via Getty Images
    According to New York Magazine, her dad wasn't too pleased about that.
  • 28 Because it’s been over 30 months since she became the oldest No. 1-ranked female tennis player ever, at 31
    Instagram
    And now, on her 34th birthday, she is still, unequivocally, No. 1.

Happy birthday, Queen Serena. You have become The Greatest.

CORRECTION: A previous version of this piece said Williams danced before her Olympic match began. She danced afterward. 

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