go ahead and say it. you have a girl crush on serena williams. how can you not? the amount of passion and power she brings to the game of tennis is unfathomable. sometimes i get intoxicated just watching her. you can drown in the intensity alone. but something that is often overlooked – and perhaps underrated – is the unwavering confidence she has in herself despite what is going on around her.
I always believe I’m the best, whether I’m No. 1 or 100 ~ Serena Williams
i have not always believed i was the best. many times i’ve thought i sucked at life in general, but especially when it comes to achieving certain adulthood markers like marriage, kids, and the picket fence. these are things that are just supposed to happen with no questions asked once you reach a certain age; much like the expectation that a champion is just supposed to win.
i grew up with serena. she’s a few years younger than me and i’ve been a fan from day one, despite my limited exposure to tennis. my mom played when i was a kid but i never really had an interest in tennis. (i was all about cheerleading. cheer for ever!) but when serena (and venus, who is brilliant in her own rite) came on my tv screen, i was team tennis all day. i never missed a match. i embraced her completely, accepting her strength and cockiness as endearing brilliance. in her, i saw something i needed to successfully face the world: confidence, resilience, and fight.
Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?
Actually, who are you not to be? ~ Marianne Williamson
as serena started her meteoric rise to the top of tennis, she took a lot of knocks along the way. her fashion-sense was always called into question. her femininity – or lack thereof – was a constant topic of discussion in hushed whispers of the former tennis elite. her shape was openly mocked and ridiculed in that coded way us brown girls have learned to ignore least we internalize it and begin to openly hate our very beautiful physiques. and white people kept losing their shit over their inability to contain her raw talent and dominant, force-of-nature game. she was, as she puts it, put on this earth to play tennis. and there was nothing anyone could do or say to negate that very simple truth. but knowing the truth has never stopped anyone from reveling in foolery.
i’ve taken my own set of knocks on this journey through adulthood. i have never been accused of being fashionable. i simply don’t care about the latest fashions or trends. i seek comfort first. i like to be put together, but i don’t stalk the pages of vogue. my fashion-sense has definitely been called in to question. in a society that measures a woman’s success by her ability to land an mrs degree and a baby buggie, i don’t quite hit the femininity mark either. clearly i’m a feminazi and hate men because my life has taken a different path than what society mapped out for my gender. and then there is the issue of my body. well, it’s not an issue with me because i’m in love with it. can’t get enough of looking at my fine self in the mirror fully clothed or decked out in my birthday suit. i love it. but i’m fully aware that it is a body that has been criminalized, villainized, and objectified.
like serena, i have come to learn that my opinion of myself is truly the only one that matters. if i can’t look in the mirror and see a brilliant, fierce, strong, talented, beautiful woman staring back at me, how can i expect anyone else to do it? if we can’t recognize our own power, how can we expect others to acknowledge that power? that’s not how it works. as we prepare to watch queen serena take center stage in yet another u.s. open tennis finals this sunday, i challenge you to learn how to be a boss in your own life. take queues from serena and change your speech to reflect your inner boss lady.
“I think my road has been a journey. I’ve been through a lot. It takes a strong person to be able to be at the bottom of the barrel and be able to come back. I don’t think anything’s easy. In my career, there are no letdowns. I never want to become satisfied with what I may, or may not have done, because I feel like there’s so much more I would like to do. I love challenges. I do best when I am faced with one. I just want to live the moment and the dream every chance I get”