Review of Serena Williams’ autobiography “On the Line” + win the book


Serena Williams' autobiography "On the Line"Our well-known friend Kevin from the Sony Ericsson WTA Tour has once again given something to Women’s Tennis Blog – this time it is Serena Williams’ autobiography called On the Line written with the help of Daniel Paisner. As always, it will be my great pleasure to give it to one of you, but first let’s see what the book is about.

Serena is talking about her childhood, the large role of her sisters, and of course, about her whole family. It’s interesting to see the beginnings of such a tennis champion, the techniques her father used in coaching her, and the way Serena saw tennis in those early days.

My absolutely favorite part of the book is one situation picturing the relationship between Serena and Venus.

Venus started playing tournaments, and father Richard didn’t allow Serena to play just yet because he considered her to be too young. Venus was nine years old when she entered a 10-and-under tournament, and Serena was eight at the time. But Serena desperately wanted to play and one day, playing Office at the table, she came across an application for the tournament. And imagine what she did: eight-year-old Serena had the courage to fill out the application herself, send it and not let her parents know about it. When the time came to go to the tournament, Serena went there along with Venus and the rest of the family, as usual. Venus won her first match at the tournament very quickly and then Richard started looking for Serena, asking one of the tournament officials where she was, and the answer he got was: “Oh, you mean the younger one? She’s playing her match on that court over there.” Hahaha imagine Richard’s shock! To make the story even better, both Serena and Venus reached the final. Venus won the match 6-2 6-2 and here are my favorite paragraphs from the autobiography.

At the awards ceremony right after, they gave Venus a nice gold trophy. They gave me a nice silver trophy as the runner-up. It was my first real trophy, so you’d think I’d be excited about it, but I just kept looking at Venus’ gold trophy and wishing I could have somehow beaten her. Oh my God, I wanted that gold trophy so badly.

Venus could see I was upset. After all, she was my big sister. She was used to taking care of me. She knew just what to do to pick me up. She came up to me after the awards ceremony and said, “You know what, Serena? I’ve been thinking. I’ve always liked silver better than gold. You want to trade?”

It was the sweetest, most selfless gesture. She set it out like I’d be doing her a favor by trading trophies.

Family pictures from Serena Williams' autobiographyIsn’t this a beautiful story? It shows Serena’s competitiveness and courage that stood out even when she was a child, as well as Venus’ kindness and caring for her younger sister.

I recommend reading this book if you want to get a closer insight into the life of Serena Williams, and especially into the way she was brought up. Serena reveals things about her personal life and personality, in a very simple and conversational tone, although I wouldn’t say she uncovered a lot. I still feel there are a lot of things about Serena left for us to learn. I can also mention that the book features a section with some nice family photos.

Have you read the book? What would you add to my review?

Now, let’s move to the giveaway part. I’m announcing a very simple contest. All you need to do in order to qualify for winning On the Line is to give the answer to the question: “When was Serena Williams’ autobiography On the Line released?” There is the exact date. Just write your answer in the comments section below. One random answerer will get the book. The contest will be closed on Tuesday, February 16, 5 pm CET. The winner will be announced on Wednesday, February 17.


  1. Hmm, I will be out of this contest as I bought the book last year on a trip to Canada. I read it on the way back home. I have to say that the book left a lot of questions unanswered for me as it relates to Serena and the whole family dynamic. I think it gave as much as Serena wanted to give. There were some personal tidbits that I did not know but it also as you say told us a lot about Serena’s competitiveness and her refusal to lose. I dont think this girl likes the word at all which is perhaps why when she loses matches she is such a sore loser. She is just born competitive and she always considers herself the best. Is it ego or is it just because she is competitive? I think ego and competitiveness have a lot to do with how successful Serena has been in her career. She is also extremely focused at what she does. In relation to how her father coached Venus and Serena, you can tell earlier on in the book that Serena hated tennis. She did it because that is what was required, but I do not think there was any great love for the sport. It would also seem as if it was a family effort. Everybody had to go out and play tennis. It makes you wonder though at the fact that both S&V took turns dropping out of the game to pursue other things. Perhaps this was done as a way of unloading from the pressures (now that they had reached the top of the sport) placed upon them by the family to do well, as well as the fact that they did not see any more goals to accomplish. Right now for me I think that Serena is just playing for the love of the game and to write her own history. She knows that she has a chance of being up there with the greats of the game, hence her ability these days to close in on Grand Slam titles. I would not say I loved the book, but I liked it a lot and have actually given it a second read as some parts of it were quite engaging. The way she talks about the death of her sister brought tears to my eyes as I knew exactly what she was going through. I had lost both parents last year as well as a sister and I read the book coming back from just burying my mother in Canada. Those parts in the book really made me cry all over again as you could definitely feel her pain coming through. I also liked how she dealt with her issues about depression and rejection. The fact that she had to seek a therapist’s couch in order to deal with so many things happening in her life is really understated by those who think that she is not focused on tennis.

  2. I already have the book but I wanted to say I love the book! and I would recommend the book to anyone who reads it!, in the book she refers to a lover she has as ” SO SO ” even dedicated a chapter to him
    on page 136. It’s an interesting book. Good topic
    you choose, btw it came out for sale September 1st, 2009 ,tuesday…

  3. Oh! How I wish I could follow Serena’s tweets! But some social networking sites are banned in my college campus 🙁

    My answer: 1st September 2009

  4. Unfortunately I have her autobiography so I won’t be able to take part in the competition 🙁 It’s strange though, the one I have is called My Life: Queen of the Court. That must be a European version or something but why it would need to be different I don’t know. I thought it was interesting and a very good read. I saw a different side to Serena and Venus aswell. Their relationship is just lovely, it’s really nice to see that they are so close and just how hard it is for them to play against one another. Serena comes across well in it and I have more respect for her now after reading the book. At the same time she could have gone a bit deeper in some parts, but she shared as much as she wanted without giving away everything. Good luck to the winner!

  5. September 1, 2009 is when the book was released. I need another copy to give to a friend, so I sure hope that I win. It’s one of the best motivational autobiographies that I’ve read in a very long time. A lot of parents should read it and get motivated to getting their kids into doing something, tennis, golf or some kind of sport that could define the rest of their lives. I would love to meet Richard Williams. Contrary to what some people think of him, I admire his determination to help his children have better and achieve more than he may have had an opportunity to do.

  6. Tennis Ace, I agree with your definition of the reasons for Serena’s success. It has to do a lot with her personality. I don’t think she hated tennis though. Ok, she hated waking up in the morning and pracicing, but none of us are too eager to do some activities, even those we love, when they are obligations. It’s human.

    Please receive my condolances on the tragedies that happened in your family.

    Karunya, at least you’re not in China, such sites are banned throughout the country.

    Bróna, I had never seen your version before. They sent me this one, and all the time I was hearing about this one.

    DeBoraha, I agree about Richard, I admire a lot of he has achieved and the way he achieved it. He must be a very smart man.

    Kiaha, I didn’t mention that part about the guy, but yes she’s talking about some boyfriend that let her down and how she overcame him.

    Thank you all for participating. The contest is open for a few more hours.

  7. September 1, 2009. I bought the book for a friend as a Christmas gift. After reading what you guys thought about the book, I might need to have one for myself.

  8. Bróna I also saw the book like U have 🙂 I don´t know if there is some difference between them but they also have different picture on the top so.. But I don´t know why there would be 2 same books 🙂

  9. Gosh you know what sucks, Ebay is like the only site I know that sells the European version of the Serena book , I think sold it at one time
    but not no more when I looked again?. I wanted
    it for myself because I collect both Venus and
    Serena stuff. I was going to say Brona I wish I had your copy! lol…

  10. LuLinQa, the only places I have heard it being on sale is in Ireland and the UK so I don’t know why there would be a different version either. Serena also did interviews over here promoting it so I’m sure it contains the same information and details as On the Line. Maybe they just wanted to give it more of a specialised title or something because tennis is not as popular in this part of the world. I don’t know why they would do that though. It’s a mystery 🙂

  11. It really is, Bróna 🙂 I saw on the Internet on amazon I think so I had no opportunity to look inside. Anyhow, I hope u enjoyed reading it 😉

  12. I did enjoy reading it. I found it very interesting and I now see Serena in a very different light, I like her better. Best of luck in the competition! 🙂

  13. I really like Serena like a person 🙂 I found her bubbly and with a good sense of humor 🙂
    Thank you, you are very nice 🙂

  14. I’ve just announced the winner. Sorry to all of you who weren’t lucky this time, but all the best in the next contest!

    I also don’t get it why there are two versions of probably the same book. Some day we will find out.

  15. Really, really, really, really, really late here, but I believe My Life: Queen of the Court, was an earlier version of a different biography of Serena’s life!


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