Here is why tennis legend Serena Williams doesn’t celebrate her birthday

BY Ben Ebuka Oji October 12, 2023 2:42 PM EDT
Photo source: US Open via X

Birthdays hold significant importance in one’s life, often celebrated in various ways. While some opt for grand festivities, others prefer more modest gatherings or even acknowledge their day with simplicity.

Celebrities and the wealthy often take birthday celebrations to extravagant heights. From lavish yacht parties to extravagant cruises, cocktail soirees at exclusive venues, or nightclub revelry, they know how to make a grand impression on special occasions.

Yet, it can be surprising when a prominent figure decides not to celebrate their birthday. Tennis legend Serena Williams, a favorite sports icon, falls into this category. She refrains from birthday festivities, and this choice extends to her children.

Serena’s decision not to mark her birthday stems from her religious beliefs. A devout Jehovah’s Witness, she doesn’t engage in birthday celebrations, a practice that conflicts with her faith. Serena clarified her stance in a recent press conference, saying, “We’re Jehovah’s Witnesses, so we don’t do that.”

On September 26, Serena Williams marked her 42nd birthday. Rather than hosting a typical celebration, she chose to commemorate the day by resharing a post by US Open on X (formerly Twitter) that showcased her impressive list of titles.

The 23-time Grand Slam champion, along with her tennis champion sister, Venus Williams, were raised as members of Jehovah’s Witness, a subsect of Christianity. Birthdays are not observed by Jehovah Witnesses.

Serena Williams, along with her sister Venus Williams and their mother Oracene Price, embraced the Jehovah’s Witness faith in the 1980s and have been devout adherents ever since. Serena Williams has consistently expressed her strong commitment to her religious beliefs.

“Being a Jehovah’s Witness is important to me, but I’ve never really practiced it and have been wanting to get into it,” said Serena Williams in 2017.

Serena Williams steadfastly adhered to her religious convictions in 2018 when her daughter Olympia celebrated her first birthday. The family refrained from commemorating Olympia’s birthday.

While she acknowledges her faith as important, Serena also affirmed that she had not been practicing it consistently and had the desire to get more involved. She noted that her spouse, Alexis Ohanian, is supportive of her religious convictions, despite not having grown up with any particular church affiliation.

“Alexis didn’t grow up going to any church, but he’s really receptive and even takes the lead,” she added. “He puts my needs first.”