“The success of every woman should be the inspiration to another. We should raise each other up. Make sure you’re very courageous: be strong, be extremely kind, and above all humble.” – Serena Williams
September 26th marks Serena Williams’ 38th birthday. What can be said about this powerhouse that has not already been published in a magazine, newspaper, or media outlet?
When asked to write a love letter to Serena for her birthday, I was unsure what I could share with BELatina readers that has not been heard before. It seems impossible to tell you something about the worldwide figure that you probably don’t know. During the writing process, I decided the best way to do this piece was to write it as a woman, instead of a fan. My hope is this letter reflects how much of an inspiration she has been over the years and as you read, it inspires you, too.
Hope this letter finds you and your family well. I wanted to take the opportunity with your birthday approaching to thank you for the years of work you have put into the game of tennis. Americans have watched you grow into a megastar along with your sister Venus during a time when there weren’t many elite African American women in the sport. Fast forward, a countless number of Grand Slam titles, Olympic Gold Medals, endorsements, books and fashion line later; you have become a household name. It is clear to your fans that you are a legend with years to go in this journey. Congratulations on all your wins.
I would mostly like to express my gratitude for showing humility. Sharing your challenges in health, career and adversity has helped women that continue to fight in the trenches while building their own empire. Your determination to only offer your best accepting defeat gracefully when necessary is admirable. It has shown superior elegance during times when others might not be as poised. But you have also demonstrated that you are human like us and we love it! You are a passionate player, fashion entrepreneur, businesswoman, doting mother, a wife and, above all, a woman like me and others reading.
Juggling multiple roles in our daily lives is difficult. We all have times, we feel it’s all too much. You remind me to keep pushing because champions are not born, they are made from continuous hard work. No matter what, keep moving forward towards the next goal. In a Time magazine interview in 2018, you were quoted as saying, “Some days, I cry. I’m really sad. I’ve had meltdowns. It’s been a really tough 11 months. If I can do it, you guys can too.”
When the pain from all the pressure gets to me – I revert back to those words. Thank you for the inspiration you offer to women everywhere.
My wish for you on this birthday and all those to come is for you to enjoy an abundance of health, love and laughter for decades to come. I’m sure your success will continue to influence us all to be better than yesterday!
Happy Birthday, Serena Williams
Serena’s career began shaping at the age of three years old when her father began coaching her using books and videos to learn the craft. He relocated the family of 5 sisters to Compton in an effort to demonstrate what the grim possibilities of what life can look like, if they did not get an education or gave up on themselves. Being great at something takes dedication and perseverance which is not handed to you – it is earned. Practices consisted of two hours per day to shape their craft. Becoming a champ requires sacrifice and drive, two things Serena and sister, Venus learned early in life. There is a price for being the best of the best without shortcuts to take along the way.
The Williams’ sisters changed the game, introducing high intensity athleticism and style. Women are playing with more power, as well as, an increased level of competitiveness. Serving speed has clocked in close to 130mph which is not excessively behind men’s serves of 143mph such as Federer’s. It signals women are rising to the occasion by upping their game.
The landscape of women’s tennis has been impacted by her presence which was no small task. Serena and her sister came into the sport during a time when the tennis commentary was dominated by Monica Seles, Maria Sharapova and Stefi Graf. It wasn’t until 1999, when Williams won her first major championship followed by her 2003 Grand Slam. She blazed a path to greatness that will place her in the record books as one of the best female tennis players in history. She has mastered tennis and now she is setting a path to build a home and family. The mother of 2 year old Olympia is a proud momma. Her daughter and husband have been seen at her matches throwing support her way while she is fulfilling her purpose. It is a great lesson for young girls all over the globe to see a woman thrive while taking on other roles.
Women today are being inspired to pursue careers and dreams outside of raising a family. Although, we battle the guilt of trying to manage it all, there are plenty of examples encouraging us to seek more. Serena Williams has acquired a tremendous amount of success by believing in herself. Admittedly, there have been days of hardship and defeat but the winner in life and on the court does not give up. The never-ending competition with her best self keeps showing up to test her wills. I’m inspired by the determination of any individual that brings forth their personal best. As a woman with aspirations of my own, stories such as this one offer strength to continue the work. Leveling up means rising to the next stage against all odds. It demands shutting out all the things that work in contradiction to what we set out to do. Inspiration is found in this powerhouse’s biography at every turn of her life. I look forward to seeing what she does next to pivot her career, motivating the rest of us to play our best game.
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