Already heralded by many as one of the most decorated athletes of all time, Serena Williams is a role model to many women around the world. With 23 Grand Slam victories, she has the second most, regardless of gender. She sits one victory away from tying Margaret Court for the most. She has been a champion for gender equality since she entered the tennis scene in 1995 with her older sister Venus. By 21, she earned her first world No. 1 ranking. In her entire professional career, she has held the No. 1 slot for a total of 319 weeks, or a little over six years. That’s good for third all-time among female players.
Williams has become an icon for feminism and black women in a sport that has been historically dominated by white men. Her body figure differs from almost everyone she plays, and she embraces it. It allows her to be the most dominant woman in tennis. It also shows younger girls that there is no default size for a tennis player.
Perhaps her most impressive feat was winning her 23rdGrand Slam at the Australian Open while she was 20 weeks pregnant. After she gave birth, she suffered blood clots which extended her stay at the hospital. Once she returned home, she experienced postpartum depression and was unable to leave her bed for six weeks. She returned to action just three months after giving birth, something she thought wouldn’t be possible at times.
She was featured in a new Nike advertisement that aired during the Oscar’s, telling women to “dream crazier.” It acts as a follow up to last year’s ‘Dream Crazy’ starring blackballed NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick. In the spot, she takes all these negative comments about women and turns them into positives. All these accomplishments that women achieve are looked at as crazy. Williams tells women to prove them wrong and show them what crazy really is.
Not only is Serena an amazing competitor and a heroine to so many people, but she is one of the most charitable athletes in the country. She has left her mark all over the world. In 2008, through her Serena Williams Foundation, she helped fund the development of the Serena Williams Secondary School in Matooni, Kenya. She partnered with Helping Hands Jamaica to build a primary school for Jamaican youth. In response to the 2010 earthquake in Haiti, Williams and other tennis stars skipped their final day of Australian Open practice to create a charity event in which all the proceeds went to hurricane relief and the victims. Domestically, she heads the Serena Williams Fund, which helps underprivileged individuals and communities that are affected by senseless violence and ensures equal access to education. In 2016, Serena and Venus founded the Yetunde Price Resource Center in their childhood city of Compton, California. The center was named after their late sister and provides services to families impacted by community violence.
Serena Williams will go down as one of the most dominant athletes in the history of sport, and her mastery in tennis is perhaps unmatched by anyone in tennis or any other sport. Her ability to inspire others and her willingness to give back and help communities struck with violence is equally as important as her on-court contributions. Her quest for 25 Gram Slam titles continues.