About Names: All hail Queen Serena

Serena Williams in a 2013 doubles match with Venus Williams.

Dr. Cleveland Evans writes about names for the Omaha World-Herald. In his September 26th column, he looks at the history of the name Serena.

Tennis great Serena Williams, who has twice won all four Grand Slam tournaments in a row, turns 36 today. Serena is the feminine form of Latin Serenus, meaning “clear” or “serene.” The first famous Serena was a niece of Theodosius, last emperor to rule both the western and eastern halves of the Roman Empire.

The 1850 U.S. census found 2,051 Serenas. The 1851 census of Great Britain had only 172. Perhaps Americans saw Serena, with its Latin origin, as part of the “Classical Revival” where towns were named Rome and Athens and babies Horace and Minerva.

Serena’s rise was boosted in 1993 when English actress Serena Scott Thomas starred in the miniseries “Diana: Her True Story.” In 1997, teen character Serena Baldwin (Carly Schroeder) began appearing on the soap “General Hospital.” Serena peaked again at 209th in 2000. 2000 was just after Serena Williams began her tennis career. Her first “Serena Slam” — winning the Australian, French and U.S. Opens along with Wimbledon — came in 2002 and 2003.

Want to know more? Read on to find out more about Serenas in history!