On Tuesday, the entire world learned that tennis superstar Serena Williams doesn't love tennis. In fact, she claims that she doesn't love any sports at all. Perhaps this picture from Sports Illustrated's photo archive can clear up part of the reason why: She's been playing at a hyper-competitive level forever.
As you can see above, Serena and sister Venus Williams have been playing in notable competitive tournaments since Ronald Reagan still looked deceptively young. In particular, since at least 1990, when that photo was taken. Considering the fact that the 40th president was 79 at the time of this particular photo -- which SI's Andy Gray found via Allsport -- that's a long, long time ago (after all, Reagan passed away nearly eight years ago).
If all the dates on this photo are accurate, Serena was nine at the time. Nine and promising enough to meet a recent president at a youth tennis tournament. Her sister was 10 and even closer to reaching her future Wimbledon fame.
Still, for either Williams sister to make it through a whopping 22 years of top-level tennis without massive burnout is pretty astonishing. So, well done Venus. For it to have taken 22 years for Serena to reach a boiling point where she doesn't even care if other people know that she doesn't love tennis is a relative accomplishment in itself.
Naturally, all of these considerations and Serena's recent admission itself probably speaks volumes about the threat of serious burnout among American youth athletes. Still, at its base level, this photo can give the rest of us a gut-punching perspective on just how long Serena has had to live in the limelight, an achievement that should give us plenty of respect for what she has achieved and just how talented she and her sister were at such a young age.
After all, it's not like Mark McGwire or Rob Dibble -- both of whom competed in the 1990 World Series -- are still competing at any level, let alone in the baseball playoffs, year after year.