“We changed the game of tennis,” Serena Williams, who is set to play in her last competitive tournament, the US open, later tonight tells the Time magazine. “We changed how people play, period. People never attacked. People never took balls early. People never served like this. People never had to play so hard to beat two Black girls from Compton.” The ‘we’ is of course herself and her sister Venus Williams.
When pressed whether she sees herself as the GOAT (Greatest of All Time), Serena chose to answer it thus: “I don’t know any other person that has won a Grand Slam or a championship in the NBA or anything else nine weeks pregnant,” she says. “A two-week event. That tournament, I relied on my brain. An athlete isn’t just about what an animal you are physically, like a specimen. It’s using everything. Your mind, your body, everything. And doing that for 20 years. And doing it against people that come against you and play the best game of their life. Every single time.
“You can come to your own conclusion after that.” That tournament she won was the 2017 Australian Open at the age of 35 without dropping a set.
— TIME (@TIME) August 29, 2022
Serena’s influence goes beyond the sweat and toil on a tennis court and she knows it. She sees her greatest legacy as “confidence and self-belief” and teaching “Black girls, they can do it too”.
“Confidence and self-belief. And teaching other Black kids, in particular Black girls, they can do it too.
“No one has ever been able to tell such an inspiring, authentic story. You live through my mistakes. You live through my ups, you live through my downs. The surgeries, and the comebacks. And it’s also a tale of never letting anyone write your story. A lot of people can relate to that. Always be authentically you. Own who you are. And love you. It’s a big tale of self-love.”
A side effect of that big tale of self-love she hopes is for young Black girls to feel good about the way they look.
“A lot of people feel they’re not pretty or they’re not cute enough because their skin is dark,” she says. “I think people could feel my confidence, because I was always told, ‘You look great. Be Black and be proud,” she tells Time magazine.
The five things to watch on day one of the US Open.
— US Open Tennis (@usopen) August 29, 2022
Serena talks about how giving the kids that confidence is important and how one shouldn’t let the “world decide beauty”.
“You don’t let the world decide beauty. And me being thicker or whatever, I mean, curves are popular now. Butts are popular. I’m trying to lose mine, and people are trying to get mine … Giving them that confidence, that motivation, is something that has literally never been done.”
Serena Williams also spoke about how she had to make a decision to quit and focus on the family, among other things, as women have to make a firm choice, unlike men.
“It comes to a point where women sometimes have to make different choices than men, if they want to raise a family. It’s just black and white. You make a choice or you don’t … “There is no anger. I’m ready for the transition. I think I’m good at it [parenthood]. But I want to explore if I can be great at it.”