This week’s Femme-spiration: Serena Williams


She’s an icon in women’s tennis. It will take me an entire work day to list all her accomplishments, on and off the court. She’s won 23 Grand Slam singles titles, set the 2012 record for most aces served in a tournament (102), and as of 2017 Australian Open is the only player, male or female, to win more than 10 grand slam singles titles in two separate decades. This week’s Femme-spiration is Serena Williams.

Although her net worth in 2016 was $150 million, according to Forbes, she certainly didn’t grow up rich. In her book, On the LineSerena unabashedly writes how her father, upon learning of Virginia Ruzici’s earnings in the 1978 French Open championships, turned to his wife and said, “We need to make two more kids and make them into tennis superstars.” For reference, Virginia Ruzici had earned $40,000 during one week of tournament play—more than Serena’s father had earned all year working as the owner of a security firm. Serena’s criticism started here.

Serena’s parents taught themselves the game so that they could teach it to the two youngest sisters-Venus and Serena. And people criticized the Williams family for that. Instead of seeing it as a couple who created two tennis stars for fortune, Serena sees them as a pair who came up with a rewarding new path their kids might follow and pointing them in the right direction. They were specifically criticized because tennis comes with a sense of entitlement, of belonging. Serena believes this false notion, that if you didn’t grow up around tennis then you didn’t belong in it, probably kept a whole group of potentially talented minority and underprivileged kids from taking up the game.

Practicing on tennis courts littered with soda cans, broken glass and the occasional gun shots didn’t deter the father-daughters team. They cleaned up upon arriving, often practiced on different courts to learn to feel the ground, and practiced rigorously with cones, carts, and tennis balls-some bought, some found. Serena even practiced with the baldest and flattest of the balls because her father said, “At Wimbledon..the balls will bounce low, just like these special balls, so you have to be ready”.

One would think that for someone who rose from such harsh circumstances to $150 million net worth would earn some admiration and respect. Unfortunately, Serena faced her fair share of criticism. She was booed at her match against Kim Clijsters because her older sister, Venus, had backed out of a semifinal in a Tier I tour event. In 2015, Serena posed for Sports Illustrated’s 21 December issue after winning their Sportsperson of the Year title and was immediately criticized for looking like a “hooker” because of her outfit and her pose.

Resilience, however, is Serena’s middle name. Actually it’s Jamika, but just humor me for a second. Serena tactfully shuts down her haters; particularly so with her latest superwoman move- winning the January 2017 Australian Open while 8 weeks pregnant. I lie in fetal position upon encountering a mildly bothersome writer’s block but this GODDESS here goes on to slam her way to victory with a living thing growing inside her.

She is one Grand Slam title away from breaking Margaret Court’s record of 24 singles titles and despite her age, recent birth of her child, a second blood clot, and a year long gap between competition will return stronger than ever for Roland Garros in 2018.

You can follow Serena on her Twitter, Facebook, and website.

[Featured image courtesy: By Edwin Martinez –]


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