"Strong is beautiful."
- Serena Jameka Williams
Strong is the word that'll come to mind when you think of Serena Williams. And I'm not talking about the power of her forehand. Serena's true strength lies deep beneath the toned muscles. It goes beyond the hours she puts in training, perfecting every shot. It lies in her heart, in her head, in every drop of sweat that falls when she steps on the court, every word she speaks in public, every posts she puts up on social media.
It all echoes the same thing - strength.
Serena is a global celebrity. Her voice is heard. So she makes sure she stands up for what is right.
She recently said she was in a rare position of being financially successful beyond imagination. She followed that up with - "But today isn't about me. It's about the other 24 million black women in America. If I never picked up a tennis racket, I would be one of them. The cycles of poverty, discrimination, and sexism are much, much harder to break than the record for Grand Slam titles."
Her stand for equal pay for women of colour was inspiring.
Then there was this. A poem she wrote during the Olympics. A truly empowering ode to all women:
But her work goes far beyond just words and social media posts. Her foundation has helped construct schools in Kenya and Jamaica for the underprivileged. She became a role model for programs focusing on helping at-risk youths.
With her sister, Venus, she opened the Yetunde Price Resource Center in their childhood town of Compton, California. It serves people who are affected by community violence. She also advocates for those who have been denied fair trials as part of the Equal Justice Initiative.
She fights for women who are subjected to domestic abuse. This is just a small part of a huge list that proves her life is just as important outside the court. The greatest thing about her is that she knows she has the means to make a difference, and so she does.
Serena has a way of making things look easy. Even pregnancy. But at the same time she realises that not everyone is as lucky. She talks about how body shaming is an actual shame. She takes pride in how she looks. Regardless of what anyone else's opinion is. Her body helps her win on the court and in life.
It's unbelievable how she does everything that she does and is still the best in her field. God hasn't gifted her with extra hours in a day. But he did gift us with women like her. Because he knows, we need them. There's something very different about Serena Williams. She has managed to be a champion in all walks of life. It has all happened without any malice. Just hard work and commitment. Again it comes back to the same thing - strength.
Maybe it means something else to you and me. But to her, it means being a better person by being stronger. She has the power to spread it to others around her.
The world remembers to talk about all the great men and women who have come and gone. We never forget those who made a difference. Serena in herself is a difference. She makes the world a better place just by being her own powerful self. It's easy for her because she loves being herself.
She really has done a lot for the world. If I try to list all of it, I'll be as tired as her opponents at the end of a match.
Oh, that reminds me... we forgot to talk about tennis. Let's just put it this way - Her last Grand Slam came early in 2017, when she won the Australian Open. And she was already 8 weeks pregnant with her baby! With 23 singles Grand Slam titles now, she holds the most by any player in Open Era tennis. She's only one behind the all-time record of 24. We know she'll go above and beyond that soon enough.
Aged 36 years young, she has proven to be a remarkable athlete and quite possibly the greatest tennis player of all time. There's something romantic about that. Serena's in love with everything she does, so why wouldn't it be?
The impact of Serena Williams is huge. It will continue to be that way because of her fighting spirit and that is what she will always be remembered for. That, and her unchallenged dominance on the court of course.
She has always professed that it's wrong how we are often told what is beautiful and what's not. True beauty really lies within or, as they say, in the eyes of the beholder. Serena is confident because she is strong.
And like she always says, "Strong is beautiful."