A love letter to Serena Williams and a rant to haters.
*Cue Brown Sugar vibes*
So when did I fall in love with Serena?
The year was 2001, Serena Williams, who two years prior had become the second African-American woman to win a Grand Slam Title, was competing against her older sister, Venus, in the US Open finals. My siblings and I were in the living room watching the huge press coverage and my siblings and I took bets on which sibling would win. Honestly, either one winning was amazing, but as the oldest of four children, I had to root for the older Venus., However, there was just something about Serena that drew my attention. Venus would win that match, but that was beginning of my fandom.
There are very few people I would say I go completely crazy over if I met. Serena is that person. And why not? The woman has an extensive Wikipedia page devoted solely to her tennis achievements. Factor in her business ventures, raw and hilarious honesty as a mother and wife and you have the QUEEN I stan for.
My admiration is of course more than her accolades. I admire the Serena effect. Her unapologetic, self-aware, dare you to doubt her, essence. The type of person that causes you to gasp in awe, appreciation, and fear all in the same breath. As a young teenager who struggled horribly with self-confidence. A girl who hadn’t yet learned of the beauty and power of her ‘man legs’ and muscular physique. Serena passively taught me to accept my body because I finally saw someone who I can relate to. She was herself; braids, outfits, speed, attitude and all. I was blessed to look to her as an inspiring model of ‘Strong is Beautiful’.
If her accomplishments and positive example weren’t inspiration enough, her failures and weaknesses were instructive to me as well. No one is perfect, but the way she has grown while navigating public and private challenges has been a lesson to me in resilience, self-awareness, and self-love.
Just like most people, Serena is always evolving. She admits that, at times, racist and sexist comments about her physique, her ability to be competitive after illness had gotten to her head. She had business ventures that failed and had to make changes in coaching and how she managed upsets on the court. Again her honest self-awareness of her imperfections is what I like the most. The post-Olympia Serena might be my favorite. Motherhood isn’t Hollywood glam and mommy grind. Its raw, authentic and serene (no pun intended). Those past missteps and lessons and her current challenge of balancing motherhood and her careers have created somewhat of an armor against ongoing challenges. If we thought Serena was confident before….watch out because motherhood has brought out a new level of the ‘Serena effect’
Now to the haters…
As the great poet, Maya Angelou wrote