Serena Slam 2.0 – A Music Trivia Connection

Serena tosses up for a serve during the 2015 French Open championship match on June 6, 2015.

(Update:  This article was updated on July 9, 2016.  It originally appeared July 11, 2015.  See the update at the bottom of the article.)

When tennis great Serena Williams completed “Serena Slam 2.0” by defeating Garbiñe Muguruza Blanco in the Wimbledon Finals on July 11, 2015, she became the latest (and only active) player to concurrently hold all four major titles (U.S. Open, Australian Open, French Open and Wimbledon).

And Serena has done it twice:  she previously held all four titles in 2002-03.

She’s also now the second woman to win 21 Grand Slam tournaments in the Open Era of tennis (that’s since 1968 when both professionals and amateurs were allowed to compete in the same tournaments).  Steffi Graf still holds the record at 22, which Serena will be aiming to tie with the upcoming U.S. Open tournament in Flushing, NY this September.

Serena has won Grand Slam tournaments since 1999.  To put that in a historical perspective, her wins have spanned three different decades (the ’90s, ’00s and ’10s) and covered three U.S. Presidents (Clinton, Bush and Obama).  If she wins the Australian Open in January 2017, she will add a fourth president.  Her wins predate 9/11, the creation of the Department of Homeland Security and the two U.S. wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

When Williams won the U.S. Open in 1999, no one had ever heard of the iPhone or Twitter, Facebook or Instagram.  Dial-up and AOL were still the main means by which we accessed the Internet back then.  And we were all still worried about the potential effects of Y2K, which was about three months away from “dooming” all of our computers and computer-based systems (which never happened of course, although cyber security issues are a bigger threat now than they were in 1999).

Our main means of music consumption in America has gone from the compact disc, which has seen its peak and major decline in the Serena Slam era, to the digital download (via iTunes, Amazon and other online stores), to now music streaming via platforms like Spotify, Pandora, Tidal and Apple Music.

Also from a musical perspective, the following deceased R&B artists were all still alive when Serena won her first Grand Slam tournament:  Michael Jackson, James Brown, Whitney Houston, Ray Charles, Aaliyah, Lisa “Left Eye” Lopes, Luther Vandross, Barry White, Levi Stubbs, Isaac Hayes, Nick Ashford, Etta James, Andrae Crouch, Rick James, Teddy Pendergrass, Gerald LeVert, Lena Horne, Lou Rawls, Billy Preston, B.B. King, Ben E. King, Curtis Mayfield, Bobby Womack, Percy Sledge, Johnny Taylor, Grover Washington, Jr., Nina Simone and Wilson Pickett.

So were pop/rock greats like George Harrison, Joe Cocker, Robert Palmer and Robin and Maurice Gibb of the Bee Gees.

And speaking of musicians (since this is in fact a music blog site), that brings me to the main point of this article.  As a big Serena fan and an even bigger fan of music and all of its associated facts and figures, I thought it would be fun to commemorate one of America’s greatest athletes ever by going down memory lane and recapping all the songs that were Number One in America during each of Williams’ Grand Slam tournament wins.

It’s becoming less and less arguable that Williams is the best female athlete of all time, and we are certainly experiencing history in the making with each of her major tournament wins.

So what better way to commemorate her latest Wimbledon victory than by this special DJRob “count-up.”

And if you’re a fan of useless trivia and fun facts, you’ll likely enjoy reading tidbits like the fact that Serena’s latest victim, Garbiñe Muguruza is from Spain, and the No. 1 song in America during Serena’s first Grand Slam victory in September 1999 was by a Spaniard (Enrique Iglesias’ “Bailamos”).

See?  That twist of trivia was almost as provocative as Serena’s own famous twirls on the court after she wins her matches.

Or how about this one: there have only been three new Number One songs so far in 2015 (easily the fewest at this point in any calendar year in Billboard Hot 100 history).  Serena’s three Grand Slam championships this year have occurred during each song’s reign.  This is especially remarkable when considering that one of the songs – Taylor Swift’s “Bad Blood” – spent only one week at the top: the week Serena won the French Open.

See how that works?

Okay, now that you’ve got the picture, check out this list of all the songs that were at No. 1 in America on the day that Serena Williams won each of her 21 Grand Slam events.

Williams celebrating her first U.S. Open title in 1999.
Williams celebrating her first U.S. Open title in 1999.
Headline for Serena Slam Number One Songs
DJ Rob DJ Rob
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Jul 09, 2016 - - 112
"Bailamos" - Enrique Iglesias (9/11/99)

"Bailamos" by Enrique Iglesias was #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 when Serena Williams won her first women's singles major tournament at the 1999 U.S. Open in Flushing, NY. It was also Enrique's first #1 single on the American pop chart

Jul 09, 2016 - - 92
"Foolish" - Ashanti (6/8/02)

Ashanti's "Foolish" topped the Hot 100 when Serena won her second major, the 2002 French Open, at Roland Garros in Paris.

Jul 09, 2016 - - 106
"Hot in Herre" - Nelly (7/6/02)

Ten rap songs (so far) have been #1 during a Serena Slam win, and Nelly's classic was the first. It was atop the chart the day Ms. Williams won her first (of seven) Wimbledon tournaments on July 6, 2002.

Jul 09, 2016 - - 95
"Dilemma" Nelly featuring Kelly Roland (9/7/02)

No "Dilemma" for Serena. She won her second U.S. Open while Nelly and Kelly topped the chart with their hit duet (and Nelly's followup to the previous Serena Slam #1 hit, "Hot in Herre").

Jul 09, 2016 - - 105
"Lose Yourself" - Eminem (1/25/03)

Serena Williams completed her career slam by winning her first Australian Open in Melbourne on January 25, 2003. Eminem's hit about losing oneself in the moment was in the midst of a 12-week run atop the Hot 100 chart.

Jul 09, 2016 - - 110
"This Is The Night" - Clay Aiken (7/5/03)

Remember Clay Aiken? Remember this song? Well, he has the honor of having the only American Idol song to top the chart during a Serena major tournament win. It was during Serena's second Wimbledon title in July 2003.

Jul 09, 2016 - - 88
"Let Me Love You" - Mario (1/29/05)

After going more than a year (five majors) without a win, Serena won her seventh major title while this song by Mario topped the pop chart. It was her second Australian Open championship.

Jul 09, 2016 - - 90
"Irreplaceable" - Beyoncé (1/27/07)

Interestingly, there's only been one #1 song by Beyoncé during Serena's major championship weeks, and it's this one - the second consecutive to be co-penned by singer Ne-Yo (who also wrote Mario's "Let Me Love You") - that topped the chart during Serena's '07 Aussie Open win. This slam tournament win also snapped a two-year drought for Serena.

Jul 09, 2016 - - 94
"Low" - Flo Rida (1/26/08)

For awhile, it began to look as if the Aussie Open would be the only major tournament Serena could win anymore. The 2008 event would become her fourth, putting it (temporarily) ahead of the other three majors for Serena. The #1 song that week was the first of two for rapper Flo Rida during a Serena championship weekend.

Jul 09, 2016 - - 94
"Whatever You Like" - T.I. (9/7/08)

Many artists have come and gone during the 17-year history of Serena's Grand Slam wins. T.I. was one of the hottest rappers around when his "Whatever You Like" topped the chart. Serena won her first U.S. Open in six years that summer.

Jul 09, 2016 - - 95
"Boom Boom Pow" - Black Eyed Peas (7/4/09)

While Americans were celebrating our Independence Day holiday, Serena was reminding the world which American ruled women's tennis with her third Wimbledon title in London, England. Fitting for the fireworks that no doubt marked that weekend, the #1 song was "Boom Boom Pow" by the Peas.

Jul 09, 2016 - - 113
"Tik Tok" - Ke$ha (1/30/10)

Serena started the new decade and the 2010 season with her fifth Australian Open title. The number one song that week was by singer Ke$ha, who was enjoying her first #1 single with "Tik Tok."

Jul 09, 2016 - - 94
"California Gurls" - Katy Perry featuring Snoop Dogg (7/3/10)

The first of two Katy Perry Songs on this list, "California Gurls" ranked #1 during Serena's 2010 Wimbledon win - her fourth.

Jul 09, 2016 - - 111
"Call Me Maybe" - Carly Rae Jepsen (7/7/12)

Another two-year drought for Serena would end with this 5th Wimbledon championship, which occurred while Canadian Carly Rae Jepsen had Americans singing along to "Call Me Maybe," the song of the summer in 2012.

Jul 09, 2016 - - 93
"Whistle" - Florida (9/9/12)

Flo Rida's second #1 during a Serena Slam win happened when she won the 2012 U.S. Open at Flushing Meadows in Queens, NY. It was her fourth U.S. Open win and the 15th overall slam win for the American superstar.

Jul 09, 2016 - - 81
"Can't Hold Us" - Macklemore and Ryan Lewis ft. Ray Dalton (6/8/13)

When Serena Williams won the 2013 French Open she had just regained the #1 ranking in women's tennis a few months earlier. It's a ranking she hasn't relinquished since. The uplifting chart topper that marked the occasion: "Can't Hold Us" by rappers Macklemore and Lewis.

Jul 09, 2016 - - 95
"Roar" - Katy Perry (9/8/13)

When a singer has had ten #1 singles in just under six years, it's not surprising that at least two of them ranked #1 during a Serena Slam win. Such is the case for Katy Perry, whose "Roar" topped the U.S. charts during the 2013 U.S. Open (Serena's 5th Open Championship).

Jul 09, 2016 - - 109
"Shake It Off" - Taylor Swift (9/7/14)

Serena began her second career "Serena Slam" by winning the 2014 U.S. Open tournament. It was also her most recent U.S. Open win, something she looks to rectify with this year's tournament in September by shaking off her 2015 loss. The #1 song during the 2014 win: "Shake It Off" by pop's princess Taylor Swift.

Jul 09, 2016 - - 97
"Uptown Funk" - Mark Bronson featuring Bruno Mars (1/31/15)

Chances were that if Serena was going to win a tournament in 2015, "Uptown Funk" would have been the #1 single during it. The song ruled the Billboard Hot 100 for 14 weeks from January to April. Serena's sixth Aussie Open win in Melbourne placed her halfway to the second Serena Slam on January 31.

Jul 09, 2016 - - 109
"Bad Blood" - Taylor Swift featuring Kendrick Lamar (6/6/15)

Arguably the hottest star of 2015, Taylor Swift racked up three #1 singles in under nine months, two of which reigned during Serena Slam wins. "Bad Blood" was the second of those, topping the chart while Serena won that year's French Open on June 6.

Jul 09, 2016 - - 81
"See You Again" - Wiz Khalifa featuring Charlie Puth (7/11/15)

Serena's sixth Wimbledon championship title in July 2015 completed her second "Serena Slam" by giving her all four major titles concurrently. It also placed her one major win away from tying Steffi Graf's Open-era record of 22 Slam titles. Perhaps fittingly, the title of the #1 song that week was "See You Again," because she certainly would.

Jul 09, 2016 - - 110
"One Dance" - Drake ft. Wizkid and Kyla (7/9/16)

After completing her "Serena Slam" with the 2015 Wimbledon Championship, Serena failed to achieve the calendar slam when she lost that year's U.S. Open. Tabloids and social media attributed the loss to Canadian rapper Drake, who was rumored to be dating Serena and who was present in the stands. Drake had a history of "jinxing" sports outcomes of the team's and players he supported that year. So it's a bit of irony that the #1 song during the week that Serena made history and won her 22nd Grand Slam title in 2016 was by none other than Drake, whose "One Dance" is his biggest Hot 100 hit by far (eight weeks at #1 and counting)!

From left to right: Nelly, Katy Perry, Taylor Swift and Flo Rida. They've had 8 (two each) of the 21 #1s during Serena's Slam wins.
From left to right: Nelly, Katy Perry, Taylor Swift and Flo Rida. They’ve had 8 (two each) of the 21 #1s during Serena’s Slam wins.

Notice any trends?  Like the fact that Nelly, Taylor Swift, Katy Perry and Flo Rida (all pictured above) each have had two Number Ones on days that Serena has won Slams.  Or that all the songs are by American acts except three: “Bailamos” by Iglesias, “Call Me Maybe” by Carly Rae Jepsen and “Uptown Funk” by Englishman Mark Ronson (although that one is a technicality because American Bruno Mars is doing all the singing).

And the main genre represented on this list of Serena Slam Number Ones is rap, which accounts for nine of the songs.  Six of the tunes are considered pure pop – and they’re all by women (Katy, Taylor, Ke$ha and Carly Rae Jepsen).  There are three R&B hits and they’re each by acts who professionally go by just their first names: Ashanti, Mario and Beyoncé.

There’s also a lone American Idol “not-so-coronation” song on the list by 2003 A.I. Runner-up Clay Aiken (remember him?).  That one topped the chart 12 years ago when Idol was the hottest TV show in the land, which goes to show you just how long Serena Williams has dominated tennis.  Not even the once-juggernaut American Idol, which will finally be put out of its misery in 2016, could out-last her.

Williams posing with her 2015 French Open trophy at Roland Garros in June 2015.

So, will Williams tie Graf’s Open Era record and win No. 22 at this year’s U.S. Open?  Or will we have to wait until 2016 when the cycle starts all over again?  And what will be the Number One song the next time she wins it?

Be sure to check back here at djrobblog in about two months to find out!

(July 9, 2016 update:  Serena Williams won the Wimbledon championship this morning to tie Steffi Graf’s open era record of 22 major tournament wins.  Coming a year after her last Grand Slam win, the current #1 song in America is by Drake (“One Dance”) who was formerly linked to Serena and is currently enjoying his first #1 as a lead artist.  It is also the tenth #1 rap song during the week of a Serena major win and the fourth by a non-American.

Also, add to the list of notable deceased musicians since Serena’s first major win: Scott Weiland, Natalie Cole, David Bowie, Glenn Frey, Maurice White, and Prince.

Finally, by virtue of her 2016 Wimbledon win, Serena’s Slam wins outlast the TV show, American Idol, which signed off for good earlier this year.

Congratulations, Serena, on finally achieving that 22nd record-tying Grand Slam win!)


P.S.: for all the true Serena fans out there, the #1 song on the day she was born (9/26/81)?  “Endless Love” by Diana Ross & Lionel Richie

The #1 when she turned pro (9/24/95)?  “Fantasy” by Mariah Carey

And the #1 when she won her singles tournament Olympic gold medal on August 4, 2012?  Same as it was when she took the Wimbledon title just a month earlier: “Call Me Maybe” by Carly Rae Jepsen.
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