What kept her out of the 2004 games? An injury.
However, over the years, Serena and her sister Venus Williams have won gold medals in doubles at the 2000, 2008, and 2012 Summer Olympics.
At the London games in 2012, Serena also picked up her first gold medal in women’s singles. So, why would the tennis legend skip the Olympics this year?
Serena Williams didn't just skip the Tokyo Olympics just because of COVID-19.
This past May, Serena shared her rationale for skipping the Olympics for the first time in over a decade, saying, per NBC Sports, "It was supposed to be last year, and now it's this year, and then there is this pandemic, and there is so much to think about."
She went on to say that she was taking things one day at a time.
At the end of the day, Serena decided to not go to Tokyo, despite clinching a spot on the U.S. team after the Italian open.
It seems the Covid restrictions, which prevented athletes from traveling with their families was the dealbreaker for Serena, who is happily married to Reddit founder Alexis Ohanian and the proud mom to daughter Alexis Olympia.
"There's a lot of reasons that I made my Olympic decision," Serena stated at Wimbledon according to Good Housekeeping. "I don't feel like going into them today. Maybe another day. Sorry."
When asked about whether she would travel to the Olympics without her 3-year-old daughter, Serena told NBC Sports, "I haven't spent 24 hours without her, so that kind of answers the question itself."
In an interview with The New York Times, she also spoke about not wanting to compete in the Olympics without having her daughter with her in Tokyo. So, it would seem that the travel restriction was a factor.
"I would not be able to go function without my 3-year-old around," she added. "I think I would be in a depression. We've been together every day of her life."
Serena's injury at Wimbledon didn't help.
Another possible factor of Serena's decision not to be in the Olympics could be that heartbreaking injury she suffered during her first round of Wimbledon against Aliaksandra Sasnovich.
Serena slipped on the grass court, hurting her right leg. Even though she tried to play through the pain, Serena ultimately had to withdraw.
"I was heartbroken to have to withdraw today after injuring my right leg," she wrote on Instagram following her exit. "My love and gratitude are with the fans and the team who make being on centre court so meaningful. Feeling the extraordinary warmth and support of the crowd today when I walked on - and off - the court meant the world to me."
At the end of the day, Serena was not the only U.S. tennis player to skip the Olympics. Teen star Coco Gauff was one of the many athletes forced to stay home after testing positive for the coronavirus right before the Olympics were set to start.
We'll definitely be rooting both Serena and Coco on at the U.S. Open!