Let me preface this article by saying I am completely biased when it comes to this woman. As a little black girl growing up in the Bronx, NY, Serena Williams always has and still is IT.
At the age of 33, she has already amassed a whopping 21 Grand Slam titles (titles for one of the four largest tournaments in tennis – Australian Open, French Open, Wimbledon and US Open) and is just three titles shy of breaking the record for the most titles ever won, which is currently 24 and belongs to Margaret Court. She’s so accomplished that her name now signifies a type of win in tennis; the Serena Slam is winning all four tournaments back to back, leaving a wake of broken dreams in your path because you’re just that damn good.
She’s had to face countless jabs concerning her race, her passion, her body, her hair – you name it; she’s been criticized about it. Yet, where most of us would have crumbled and succumbed to the pressure, this woman has always held her head up high and taken it all in stride, rising above the BS with her head still held high and her confidence at 100.
In a recent New York Times Magazine article, she not only made every black girl who read, has read and will read this piece prouder than they’ve ever been to be a woman of girl and inspired to kick ass and take names, but solidified her position as the WCW to end all WCWs.
She speaks about the hard work it took for her to become the champion we see before us today. How since she was little, her father would pay busloads of local kids come to the courts where here and Venus were practicing and shout every racial slur they could think of at the sisters, preparing them for the inevitable racial hecklers that they would soon face as successful pro athletes.
She speaks about how she now focuses only on the next game or two in front of her, instead of the bigger picture of winning the tournament so that she can remain sane and break what may seem like a daunting road into a series of smaller hurdles that are much more faceable, albeit still very difficult.
She speaks about the fact that she is aware and proud of and fully accepts the responsibility that her wins in tennis represent something much bigger, like wins for the black community as a whole, over the stifling fact that racism, though in ways now more covert than former years, is still a very much present and ominous force in the lives of many of color. At the same time, she makes sure to let it be known that this is not the reason she plays; she is simply a world class competitive athlete that is passionate about what she does and loves to win; this is an additional bonus.
She addresses the biased scrutiny she receives by the media and tennis spectators and officials alike. She is not white – she is the beautiful mocha color of a goddess that has been kissed by the sun. She is not blonde – she has hair that mimics the kinks and curls of her ancestors, honoring the tears and blood they shed to make it possible for her to beat not only her opponents but the naysayers who possess the same ignorance of those who oppressed her forefathers. She is not slim or waif like – she has transformed her body into a version of an assassin, murdering her opponents by any means necessary, whether that be effortlessly in 2 sets, or by finding the will and last bit of strength that only a body like hers can muster up to defeat those same “beautiful bodies” to which she is compared.
Lastly, and to me most importantly, she speaks about the fact that while she is hands down the most professionally accomplished women’s tennis player of her time, that she is not seen as the most marketable, does not receive the most endorsements and therefore doesn’t make the most money. Maria Sharapova, who Serena has beaten 18-2 over the years from all their match ups, is ranked 8 spots above Serena in London’s School of Marketing’s list of most marketable sports stars and who has a net worth of $29 million to Serena’s $24 million, was the main point of comparison for obvious reasons.
When asked about her feelings about this, Serena’s response, which can only be described as the epitome of grace rained down from Jesus himself and anointed by Ghandi and Mother Theresa, was so good I won’t even paraphrase it for lack of tainting it with my terribly severe case of pettyness (I am trying to change my ways but LORD).
This SAINT actually responded
“I’m happy for her because she worked hard too. There is enough at the table for everyone…We have to be thankful and we also have to be positive about it so the next black person can be number 1 on that list…Maybe it was not meant to be me. Maybe it’s meant to be the next person to be amazing and I’m just opening the door”.
Honestly if there was ever a cure for the black community and our feelings (and the manifestation of these same feelings) of still being behind our white counterparts, Serena Williams is IT. She does not focus on the injustices she faces at every tournament from bad calls to being booed for playing while black to presidents of tennis federations damn near calling her a man. No no. Not Serena. She focuses on winning and does whatever it takes to do just that. If more of us did the same, and concentrated our efforts and resources to simply doing the best we can instead of dwelling on all those factors around us that are working to keep us down, that we have no control over anyway, our race as a whole WILL progress. I have never before been prouder to be a black woman than when I watch this queen, whether it be in tv interviews or doing what she does best…winning.
This Wednesday and every one from here on out will be a #WilliamsWednesday to me, because hands down Serena Williams is exactly what we need; a real life living and breathing example of class, grace and what we all need the most, resilience.