“The success of every woman should be the inspiration to another. We should raise each other up.”
When you reach the top, and being a woman at that, people get mad. And if you’re an African-American woman occupying the highest step of the ladder, they get positively hostile. But for Serena Williams, their slurs are just distant sounds on the grounds, because when she walks in to the court, all the cells in her body zero in on word – victory.
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Serena Williams has proved time and time again that you can be drowning in a sea of people pointing fingers at you, calling you a ‘man’, a ‘hooker’ and a ‘steroid freak’, but she couldn’t care less about their ruthless allegations. The queen of sass and undue confidence, Serena has two great loves – tennis and herself.
“I’ve been like this my whole life, and I embrace me and I love how I look. I love that I am a full woman, and I’m strong and I’m powerful and I’m beautiful at the same time. And there’s nothing wrong with that,” she said in an interview in Good Morning America in 2015.
In her illustrious career of almost two decades of playing a mean game of tennis, Serena has 22 Grand Slam Titles to her name, more than any male rival, even Federer or Nadal, holds to his name. Breaking down the list of all her major titles, she has 22 in Singles, 14 in Women's Doubles and two in Mixed Doubles. She is the only tennis player to have won Singles titles at least six times in three of the four Grand Slam tournaments and also the only one to have won 10 Grand Slam singles titles in two separate decades.
That’s what Serena wants – not just to be the ‘female best’ in the world of tennis, but rather an all-rounded victor. Famous for her almost aggressive game on the court, Tennis now has a new terminology for her methods – the ‘Serena slam’, which she administers proudly.
For Serena, name-calling doesn’t ruffle her feathers – she’s been subject to it her whole life. When the William sisters were children, their father Richard moved the family to West Palm Beach, Florida for professional training in Tennis, but more so to keep them away from the junior tennis circuits and the racist under-currents they employed. In an interview unearthed from 1992 taken by Trans World Sport, an eleven year old Serena, on being asked which professional tennis player she would like to be when she grew up, said, “Well, I’d like other people to be like me.”
On being called a man and ridiculed for not having a ‘woman’s body’, which, according to the hostile voices, gives her ‘biologically superior strength’ against ‘normal women’, Serena simply laughs and goes on to boldly challenge the stereotypes by working together with Beyonce in her super-sexy Sorry video.
“I love my body, and I would never change anything about it. I’m not asking you to like my body. I’m just asking you to let me be me. Because I’m going to influence a girl who does look like me, and I want her to feel good about herself,” she said.
Serena is the first female African-American athlete to feature on the cover of Vogue Magazine and has her own Clothing line with Nike. Her written works are inspiring to female athletes and women with rampant insecurities alike. Driven in to philanthropy, The Serena Williams Foundation established the Serena Williams Secondary School in Matooni, Kenya and also grants college scholarships to underprivileged students in America every year. She is an active supporter and contributor to charitable organisations like Big Brothers Big Sisters and the Elton John AIDS Foundation. She is a great proprietor for equal pay for men and women, especially in the sporting world.
“Will I have to explain to my daughter that her brother is gonna make more money doing the exact same job because he’s a man? If they both played sports since they were three years old, they both worked just as hard, but because he’s a boy, they’re gonna give him more money?” she had once said in an interview with Glamour.
Williams is a perfect combination of hard-lined passion and absorbed ambition, tallied in with a pinch of humility and undaunted confidence in her ability to be the absolute best. She gives hope to women all over the world, struggling to deal with much insecurity and those trying to battle it out in a world and industry that is openly biased towards men – to win against all odds and leave your mark in the wall of fame. As she turns a year older but delightfully younger at heart, we know that this is a woman who’s here to stay.
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