Serena Williams is a professional tennis player who many consider the greatest female tennis player of all time. Williams is the former world No. 1 in women’s singles tennis and has won 36 Grand Slam singles titles, which is the most of any player in the Open Era. In 2019, the Associated Press named Williams Female Athlete of the Decade. 

Despite her immense success and long-lasting legacy, Williams had to fight for her victories. Growing up in the world of sports, Williams faced discrimination in the forms of racism, sexism, and body shaming. While these experiences had an impact on her life, she never gave up on her goals. Today, she continues to be one of the most influential women in sports.

Based on an analysis of her motivations and behavior, Serena Williams is likely an ESFP and Enneagram 8

“I’ve never been like anybody else in my life, and I’m not going to start now.”

 — Serena Williams

Serena Williams’ Enneagram: Type 8 (The Challenger) 

Eights are called “The Challenger” personality type because they take on challenges and encourage others to challenge themselves. Charismatic, energetic, and influential, Serena Williams embodies many of the characteristics of the Enneagram 8 type. 

Enneagram 8: Inwardly 

  • Need to have control over their environment. Eights fear losing control over their environment and appearing weak. Williams combats these fears by constant practice and an extreme focus on excelling in everything she does. She maintains a tough outer persona and views every failure as an opportunity to learn and grow. 
  • Extremely passionate about what they believe in. Williams is passionate about more than just tennis. She is a UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador and supports dozens of charities and causes around the world. In an interview with Vogue, Williams said, “I love sticking up for people and supporting women. Being the voice that millions of people don’t have.” She is deeply passionate about using her fame and influence to make the world a better place. 
  • Possess a strong sense of justice. Williams has a strong sense of right and wrong. And she’s not afraid to speak out when she believes that something is unfair. During the U.S. Open Grand Slam match between Williams and Naomi Osaka, Williams stood up to the umpire for making unjust calls. Ultimately, these calls led to Williams losing the game to Osaka. Rather than take her anger out on Osaka, Williams consoled the other player and encouraged the angry crowd to support Osaka. 

Enneagram 8: Outwardly

  • Bold and confident. Despite setbacks and hardships, Williams is a confident leader who isn’t afraid to speak up for herself and others. As she famously said, “You have to believe in yourself when no one else does.” 
  • Extremely energetic and busy. Williams has been playing tennis since she was three years old. She is known for her fierce energy, stamina, and speed. She isn’t the type of person to skip practice just so she can chill out at home. 

Serena Williams’ Myers-Briggs Personality Type: ESFP

E / Extravert: Energetic and outgoing, Serena Williams is a self-described Extravert. When asked to describe her personality during an interview with The Guardian, Williams said, “I'm a real extrovert, but when I'm round someone new, I'm super shy. Actually, I'm lying. The older I get, the more extroverted I get. I'm super extroverted."

S / Sensing: Williams is primarily focused on what is going on in the sensory world — both in how she feels internally and what’s happening around her. Her abilities to be fully present and aware of all the details in her environment help her excel as a professional athlete. 

F / Feeling: While on the outside she is tough and confident, on the inside Williams has a tender and sensitive side to her personality. She is known to get emotional on the tennis court and is vocal about her belief that women should be able to be expressive and vulnerable at work. 

P / Perceiving: Energetic and adaptable, Williams is easily able to improvise and quickly find what works well for her — both on and off the court. While she is constantly practicing and preparing, ultimately she can easily adapt to what works best at the moment. 

Cognitive Functions

Se / Extraverted Sensing: Williams is highly in tune with what is going on in her sensory environment, paying attention to every detail that will help her get a leg up during a game. In interviews, she is able to be present and recall sensory experiences with ease. Williams also possesses a strong awareness of her body: how it feels, why it is performing certain ways, and how to manipulate it to perform better. These are all qualities that suggest dominant Extraverted Sensing. 

Fi / Introverted Feeling: It’s extremely important for Williams to be true to herself, stand up for her values, and be in touch with her emotions. Celebrities Galore says of William’s personality, “When not in harmony with her true nature, Serena can fall to moodiness, or become aloof, and withdrawn.” Since her Feeling is Introverted, she needs time to process before truly understanding how she feels, like she states during this post-game press conference. These traits are likely due to her Introverted Feeling. 

Te / Extraverted Thinking: Williams is relentlessly driven and goal-oriented, characteristics that have led to her immense success. However, she admits to struggling with the things she’s had to give up along the way, saying “There's always something you have to give up for success. Everything comes at a cost. Just what are you willing to pay for it?” Her goal-oriented nature, complemented by a vague sense of discomfort when it conflicts with her Fi, is likely attributed to her tertiary Extraverted Thinking. 

Ni / Introverted Intuition: Williams strives to leave a lasting impact on the world. Through her humanitarian work, she’s supported initiatives to build schools and immunize vulnerable children in Africa. She is idealistic and able to envision a world that is free of inequality and discrimination. Wiliams can also be skeptical of people and situations she isn’t familiar with. These are aspects of her inferior Introverted Intuition. 

Fast Facts About ESFPs:

  • Make-up approximately 9% of the general population 
  • Second highest of all types in marital satisfaction
  • Overrepresented in health care, teaching, coaching, and child care occupations
  • Personal values include Home/Family, Health, Friendships, Financial Security, and Spirituality 
  • Score high in these personality traits: Changeable, Energetic, Forceful, Initiating, and Resourceful

With her Myers-Briggs and Enneagram types, Serena Williams is a strong, confident, and assertive leader. She inspires young athletes and others around the world to stand up for what they believe in, work hard to achieve their dreams — and most importantly, never give up.

Megan Malone
Megan holds an MS in organizational psychology and manages content and brand marketing at Truity. She is passionate about helping people improve their relationships, careers, and quality of life using personality psychology. An INFJ and Enneagram 9, Megan lives quietly in Fort Worth, Texas with her husband and two pups. You can chat with her on Twitter @meganmmalone.