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On the Line

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3.55 of 5 stars 3.55  ·  rating details  ·  209 ratings  ·  48 reviews
One of the biggest stars in tennis, Serena Williams has captured every major title. Her 2009 Australia Open championship earned her the #1 world ranking for the third time in her illustrious career - and marked only the latest exclamation point on a life well and purposefully lived. As a young girl, Serena began training with an adult-sized racquet that was almost as big a ...more
Hardcover, 272 pages
Published September 1st 2009 by Grand Central Publishing
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14th out of 139 books — 85 voters
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288th out of 814 books — 70 voters


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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 401)
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Veronica
I love everything about the U.S. Open except the line calls. ~ Serena Williams

I experienced this past U.S. Open upset of Serena Williams with a different perspective than if I hadn't read her memoir "On the Line." The book is written in Serena's voice. It's personal, it's conversational, and that's why I like it. I enjoyed her reflection on her life thus far.

I have to say that Serena is a spoiled brat, but that observation comes from her directly. She tells stories that curled this big sister's
...more
Ed
As a huge tennis fan, I figured I would read Serena Williams' "On The Line" at some point, but after her meltdown at this year's US Open, the book quickly went up my to-be-read list. I always find it a bit odd when tennis players release memoirs mid-career, but the Serena certainly had enough material, even if she is still a few more years to go until retirement.

In general, the Williams Sisters have not been terribly forthcoming about their personal lives, generally letting their tennis do all
...more
Bobette
A taste of what day-to-day life is like for an athletic championin in a unique postion to play (professionaly) with and sometimes against her equally talented sister! I think the co-author (Paisner) let Ms. Williams do her own thing in this autiobiography without a lot of screening, which was refreshing. I did catch that Serena says in the book that the quote that "her hometown courts were in such bad areas/condition that there was sometimes drug paraphenalia on them" was a stretch and yet that ...more
Jenni
The best parts of this book were the stories about Serena and her family. I enjoyed learning about all of her family, not just the members in the public eye (i.e., Venus and her father). Also, it was interesting to learn just how misunderstood Serena's father is and how he "pressured" the girls to do their best ... isn't this what all fathers do? A great insight into Serena's family.

The downsides? Well, let's just say Ms. Williams should keep her day job of playing tennis. I don't think writing
...more
Bill
I am a life-long tennis player and fan. I have admired both Venus and Serena since they came on the tennis scene. Unfortunately the book arrived the Monday following Serena's embarrassing verbal--and almost physical--attack on a lineswoman at the U.S. Open semifinal match. As I read the book I wondered which was the real Serena--the one who seemed to have successfully escaped a very difficult life to become a superstar admired by people around the world or the selfish, vindictive, foul-mouthed t ...more
Andrea
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
David Hankerson
This book would definitely be appreciated by the true tennis fan and sports junkies. It is a great insight into how a champion's mind works--the killer instinct, the mental focus and single-minded devotion to the sport and winning at the cost of everything else.
This is also a great insight into Venus and Richard Williams. I have a new respect for both. And of course it is great insider's view of what happened at the infamous Indian Wells tournament that led to the Williams sisters boycott of the
...more
Rebecca
I don't know much about tennis but I love reading people's biographies. I love to see where they came from and what it took to get there.

I wasn't aware of Serena's background and how her parents taught all 5 girls to play tennis. Her family is her greatest support.

She is still young so she will have a lot more experiences to write about but I found it very interesting.
Sylvie
Well to tell you the truth I was curious when I entered the contest to get this book and I ended up surprised when I read it.

She is not at all what I expected and this book was a really good way to discover someone... not through the lens of a cameras from being in the public eye.

Great read!
Sandy
I enjoyed Serena William's memoir / diary On The Line. Serena tells the story of her childhood in Compton, California, where she and her sisters were coached in tennis by her parents, especially her father. The reader learns about Serena's early relationships, particularly the closeness and the rivalry among five sisters in a tight-knit family. She explains how the rivalry between her and her older sister Venus proves to be extremely beneficial in forming their competitive edge. Serena shares ot ...more
Michael Scott
Serena Williams's autobiography On the Line is one of the best sports biographies I've read. The story not only reveals a great deal of information on how the world of tennis is structured, but also gives a surprisingly sincerely-sounding account of her own trials and tribulations. In comparison with Peter Sampras's autobiography, Serena's talks much more about the youth of a tennis player, both as a radiography of the system and as an account of the feelings of an ambitious kid. Serena is not s ...more
Brian Hull


Whenever I hear that Serena Williams is playing in a tournament on TV, I can't do anything except watch her play. She is so powerful and dominant over the others on tour. So, when it came time to read her book, "ON THE LINE," I couldn't wait to start it. I love how she said her favorite color is orange and I love that Venus and Serena are so close. Serena is one of my favorite tennis players of all time. I loved Chapter #4 about "The Fiery Darts" aimed at her. People have no class and no respec
...more
Tensy
I have been an admirer of the Williams sisters since they first sprang onto the women's tennis circuit in the late 1990s. This autobiography by Serena Williams describes her upbringing and family dynamics, although she avoids going into much detail about the difficult moments, like her parents divorce and sister's murder. I would almost classify this as a young adult book, primarily because she spends a great part of the book refelecting on her motivation on the tennis court and her championship ...more
Emma Nunamaker
On the Line
By: Serena Williams
Review by: Emma Nunamaker

I always hear about how much fun tennis is and thanks to Serena Williams who wrote her biography On the Line I have learned the excitement and pressure you have going into a tennis match.

Personally I’ve never played tennis but Serena Williams could convince anyone that tennis could be fun, competitive and an intense sport. Serena’s whole family was into tennis so she grew up playing. Serena Williams has an older and younger sister. Her olde
...more
Aubrie Boyd
May 07, 2013 Aubrie Boyd is currently reading it
Inspiration, Hope, Courage, and where it all started is what Serena Williams writes about in her Biography on the Line. When Serena Williams started playing Tennis at five years old she had no idea she would soon become the number one Tennis player in the world. When you first begin to read this book it is hard to put down and you could truly feel the goods and bad that she was feeling at the time. Serena has had many ups and downs on her own, with her sister, and all of her family, but they alw ...more
Ayush EVHS Shukla
I truly enjoyed this book on Serena William's life because it really shows you an athletes' life every day. I also enjoyed reading about the personal side, her relationship were parents and her sisters. I also learned more about her tough background and it helped me appreciate her more. I feel that this book taught me many new things about being an athlete and also inspired me as a person. I would recommend this book to anyone who wants to see how hard it is to be an athlete.
OOSA
Think. Do. Be.

Looking for a light yet positive and informative read? Consider a copy of Serena Williams' memoir. "On the Line" peels back a few layers of the life of this tennis phenom. In just twenty seven short years she has experienced what some may never experience in a lifetime. Serena discusses her highs and lows, wins and losses, triumphs and tragedies and what keeps her grounded: family and her faith. From the unforgiving streets of Compton to the U.S. Open, Serena is a testament of har
...more
Melissa
In "On the Line", Serena Williams shares a lot of funny anecdotes from her childhood in a conversational tone that will appeal to the younger reader. This is an inspirational look at the sacrifices the entire Williams family made to help get Serena and Venus to the top of the tennis world. Although Serena is the baby of the family and admits to being very spoiled, she does recognize the effect her training schedules had on her older sisters, and is grateful for their support.

Serena Williams is o
...more
Samantha
Serena Williams fully admits that she's not old enough to completely write an autobiography and that she has a lot more tennis and living to go through. However, this is a good book to get started on. I didn't really know much about Serena. I think if you are a longstanding fan of hers then you will be disappointed with this book. It's very basic and she's very positive about everything in her life. She appeared to me to be making a lot of excuses about her family. She barely mentions her parent ...more
Francoist
What a pleasure it was to sit down and read a book written by female tennis' world no1.
I really felt like Serena Williams was sitting down right next to me taking me through her life. Some of which I was aware of, others to which I was completely ignorant and others to which I remember but finally found out what was going on in 'her' head at the time.
I have always respected Serena Williams profound talent on the tennis circuit, however reading her book has truly opened my eyes to the sort of cha
...more
Gretchen Merritt
I enjoyed learning about the life of Serena Williams but the book started to feel like it was dragging on a bit for the last part...
Londa
I enjoyed the first chapters of this book the most. It was very interesting to read about how her close family played and practiced together. I never realized how many hours elite atheletes log in perfecting their skills. I admire their dedication to each other and the game. I am not a big tennis fan and I don't know the rules very well. This was a hindrance to me especially during the later part of the book where she detailed her matches point by point. I'm sure I would have enjoyed it more if ...more
Cecily
I really enjoyed getting to know Serena on a more personal level. The book is a great motivator. I believe that the same tactics that she uses to keep her going and focused on the courts can be used by not only any athlete but by anyone with any type of goal they have set forth for themself. Her dedication & energy is incredible and I admire her even more. Realize her career is strenuous not only physically but mentally and must endure criticisms, biases as well as fierce opponents.
Michael
It's alright but not engagingly written and disappointingly lacking in insight. And she fails to mention some pretty major moments in her career. It's kind of odd and disjointed. Still, her personality comes through well and fans of hers will find something worthwhile here. In general, though, sports biography fans should reach for Agassi's book.
Susan
I have always been a fan of athlete-overcomes-huge-obstacles-to-triumph
stories. This is one of the best of that
genre -a poor African-American child
despite poverty and devastating family
circumstances becomes the #1 ranked
woman tennis player in the world and
accomplishes things beyond that world
too. Very inspiring and uplifting!
MaryKay
I was awarded an advanced copy of this book through First-Read and really enjoyed it. I don't follow tennis and wasn't sure what to expect. Serena was very positive and shared where her inspiration has come from at different stages in her life. I enjoyed her memories of her family and her description of the strength she draws from them.

Donald
For those who have kept up with the Williams sisters' careers, this book doesn't add much. It's interesting to read about Serena's thoughts on some of her more famous matches, but it's a little early (she's not yet 30) for her to have enough distance from these experiences to be able to put them in perspective.
Duane Hill
I really enjoyed the autobiography!!! It explained a lot about The Williams Family, her relationship with Venus and how their parents groomed them to be great players. Also, if you have anything negative to say about Richard Williams, it will change after you read this book.
Daisy
This has just come out, only a week before her outburst at the US Open in the semi-finals. My copy arrived from the library just days after that. Good timing.
I really wonder if this book will be at all revealing.

Superficial. Tedious. I'm sorry.
Tammy
I've always wanted to know more about how Serena and her sister became tennis champions from such humble beginnings. This book answered many of my questions and gave me a glimpse into how and why she is one of the best women tennis players ever.
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