#1 Barack Hussein Obama II
Born August 4, 1961) is an American politician and attorney who was the 44th president of the United States from 2009 to 2017. A member of the Democratic Party, Obama was the first African-American president of the United States. He previously served as a U.S. senator from Illinois from 2005 to 2008 and an Illinois state senator from 1997 to 2004.
Obama was born in Honolulu, Hawaii. After graduating from Columbia University in 1983, he worked as a community organizer in Chicago. In 1988, he enrolled in Harvard Law School, where he was the first black person to be president of the Harvard Law Review. After graduating, he became a civil rights attorney and an academic, teaching constitutional law at the University of Chicago Law School from 1992 to 2004. Turning to elective politics, he represented the 13th district from 1997 until 2004 in the Illinois Senate, when he ran for the U.S. Senate. Obama received national attention in 2004 with his March Senate primary win, his well-received July Democratic National Convention keynote address, and his landslide November election to the Senate. In 2008, he was nominated for president a year after his presidential campaign began, and after a close primary campaign against Hillary Clinton, Obama was elected over Republican nominee John McCain and was inaugurated alongside Joe Biden on January 20, 2009. Nine months later, he was named the 2009 Nobel Peace Prize laureate.
Obama signed many landmark bills into law during his first two years in office. The main reforms that were passed include the Affordable Care Act (commonly referred to as ACA or “Obamacare”), although without a public health insurance option, the Dodd–Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, and the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell Repeal Act of 2010. The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 and Tax Relief, Unemployment Insurance Reauthorization, and Job Creation Act of 2010 served as economic stimuli amidst the Great Recession. After a lengthy debate over the national debt limit, he signed the Budget Control and the American Taxpayer Relief Acts. In foreign policy, he increased U.S. troop levels in Afghanistan, reduced nuclear weapons with the United States–Russia New START treaty, and ended military involvement in the Iraq War. He ordered military involvement in Libya for the implementation of the UN Security Council Resolution 1973, contributing to the overthrow of Muammar Gaddafi. He also ordered the military operations that resulted in the deaths of Osama bin Laden and suspected Yemeni Al-Qaeda operative Anwar al-Awlaki.
After winning re-election by defeating Republican opponent Mitt Romney, Obama was sworn in for a second term in 2013. During this term, he promoted inclusion for LGBT Americans. His administration filed briefs that urged the Supreme Court to strike down same-sex marriage bans as unconstitutional (United States v. Windsor and Obergefell v. Hodges); same-sex marriage was legalized nationwide in 2015 after the Court ruled so in Obergefell. He advocated for gun control in response to the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting, indicating support for a ban on assault weapons, and issued wide-ranging executive actions concerning global warming and immigration. In foreign policy, he ordered military intervention in Iraq in response to gains made by ISIL after the 2011 withdrawal from Iraq, continued the process of ending U.S. combat operations in Afghanistan in 2016, promoted discussions that led to the 2015 Paris Agreement on global climate change, initiated sanctions against Russia following the invasion in Ukraine and again after Russian interference in the 2016 United States elections, brokered the JCPOA nuclear deal with Iran, and normalized U.S. relations with Cuba. Obama nominated three justices to the Supreme Court: Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan were confirmed as justices, while Merrick Garland faced partisan obstruction from the Republican-led Senate led by Mitch McConnell, which never held hearings or a vote on the nomination. Obama left office in January 2017 and continues to reside in Washington, D.C.
During Obama’s term in office, the United States’ reputation abroad, as well as the American economy, significantly improved. His presidency has generally been regarded favorably, and evaluations of his presidency among historians, political scientists, and the general public frequently place him among the upper tier of American presidents.
#2 VENUS WILLIAMS
Venus Ebony Starr Williams (born June 17, 1980) is an American professional tennis player. A former world No. 1 in both singles and doubles, Williams is generally regarded as one of the all-time greats of women’s tennis and, along with younger sister Serena Williams, is credited with ushering in a new era of power and athleticism on the women’s professional tennis tour.
Williams has been ranked world No. 1 by the Women’s Tennis Association for a total of 19 weeks (11 in singles and 8 in doubles). She first reached the No. 1 ranking in singles on February 25, 2002, becoming the first African American woman to do so in the Open Era, and the second all time since Althea Gibson. She became the world No. 1 in doubles for the first time on June 7, 2010 alongside Serena, after the pair won their fourth consecutive Grand Slam doubles crown. Williams’ seven Grand Slam singles titles are tied for 12th on the all-time list, and 8th on the Open Era list, more than any other active female player except her sister. She has reached 16 Grand Slam finals, most recently at Wimbledon in 2017. Her five Wimbledon singles titles tie her with two other women for eighth place on the all-time list, but give her sole possession of No. 4 on the Open Era List, trailing only the nine titles of Martina Navratilova and the seven of Serena Williams and Steffi Graf. From the 2000 Wimbledon Championships to the 2001 US Open, Williams won four of the six Grand Slam singles tournaments in that span. At the 2020 French Open, Williams extended her record as the all-time leader, male or female, in Grand Slams played, with 87. With her run to the 2017 Wimbledon singles final, she broke the record for longest time between first and most recent grand slam singles finals appearances. Williams was twice the season prize money leader in 2001 and 2017, and currently ranks second behind Serena in career prize money earned with over $41.8 million. She has also won 14 Grand Slam Women’s doubles titles, all with Serena Williams; the pair is unbeaten in Grand Slam doubles finals. Williams also has two Mixed Doubles titles. Her combined total of 23 Grand Slam titles across all disciplines is tied with Steffi Graf for the fourth-most by a women’s player in the Open Era behind Martina Navratilova, Serena, and Martina Hingis.
Williams has won four Olympic gold medals, one in singles and three in women’s doubles with her sister, along with a silver medal in mixed doubles, tying her with Kathleen McKane Godfree for the most Olympic medals won by a male or female tennis player in history. At the 2000 Sydney Olympics, Williams became only the second player to win Olympic gold medals in both singles and doubles at one Olympic Games, after Helen Wills Moody at the 1924 Summer Olympics (she was followed by her sister in 2012). After winning silver in mixed doubles with Rajeev Ram at the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics, Williams became the first tennis player to win a medal at four separate Olympic games, as well as the first player in the Open Era to win an Olympic medal in all three events (singles, doubles, mixed). She and Serena are also the only tennis players in history with four Olympic gold medals, as well as the only ones to win Olympic gold in the same event on three separate occasions.
With 49 WTA singles titles, Williams trails only her sister Serena Williams among active players on the WTA Tour with most singles titles. Along with her 22 WTA doubles titles and two mixed doubles titles, Venus’ combined total of 73 WTA titles is also second among active players behind Serena. Her 35-match winning streak from the 2000 Wimbledon Championships to the 2000 Generali Ladies Linz tournament final is the longest since January 1, 2000. She is also one of only two active WTA players to have reached the finals of all four Grand Slams, along with sister Serena.