Resident from Rochester with Serena Williams connection reflects on her career
Rochester, New York – Serena Williams has announced her retirement following two and half decades of revolutionizing the world of tennis.
Rochester’s Brad Thyroff was there from the beginning. Due to a shoulder injury, his desire to keep playing led him to work with several professional players. He developed a relationship with Richard Williams in 1997, and after being asked to work for the family as a hitting partner for Venus and Serena, the rest became history.
“Just so much happened in those 25 years,” Thyroff said. “So it was neat to be part of when it all started for her.”
When she was 15, Thyroff began practicing with Williams for several hours a day and formed close bonds with the family, especially Serena’s father. He attended several U.S. Opens with the sisters and witnessed some of the most important moments of their early careers. “Serena won the U.S. Open in 1999 and kind of shocked the tennis world, shocked really her sister, Venus, [and] shocked her parents,” Thyroff said. “I mean, they all knew that she was destined to be great but it just all happened so quick.”
Now, Thyroff, like so many others, is remembering the legacy she leaves behind.
“It’s sad in a way because it was such an important era of tennis, especially women’s tennis,” he said.
Though he believes Williams will always remain a tennis icon, Thyroff commends the athlete and woman Williams has become and the successful career he has watched from the sidelines for years. “She’s just always been good about believing in herself and just having that willpower,” he said. “And it’s so important for all of us just to remember to have confidence, believe in yourself and you really can achieve everything.”