The tennis champion opened up to contributor Melissa Harris-Perry about being the “greatest athlete,” taking a loss last year, retirement, and leaving behind a legacy of fulfillment.
When asked how she responds to being called “the world’s greatest athlete,” Serena humbly responded:
“Oh my gosh, I don’t know. That’s so hard to say. I try to be the best that I can be every day. I have bad days. I had a bad day the other day. I hit for only, like, 30 minutes, and I stormed off the court. But that was the best I could do on that day. So am I the greatest? I don’t know. I’m the greatest that I can be.”
Being a great athlete also means taking a loss. While Serena won many of her competitions last year, she faced a shocking loss at the U.S. Open against competitor Roberta Vinci.
After the loss, Serena said she worked harder.
“I study to see where I went wrong. But I carry the loss. My coach has said to me, ‘When you win a match or a tournament, you don’t even think about it – the very next minute you’re like, “Now I’ve got to focus on Wimbledon.” You should take the losses the same way.’ I need to look at those losses as learning experiences,” she said.
Serena also dispelled the myth that she should be thinking about retirement at 35.
“Who says that your thirties is when you’re supposed to be done? I would like to know who made that rule! I was talking to my mom one time, like, ‘Gosh, I’m 30.’ And she’s like, ‘In your thirties you’re even stronger than in your twenties.’ I didn’t believe her, but I have played better in my thirties. And I played pretty well in my twenties – don’t get me wrong – but my consistency is better, my momentum is better, my wins are quicker,” says the 34 year old.
As for her legacy, Serena revealed she “never thought about leaving a tennis legacy.”
“I always thought about leaving a legacy of fulfillment, living out your dreams, and giving back,” she adds. “I’m proud to have opened (two) schools in Africa and one in Jamaica (through the Serena Williams Fund and its partners). I was given a lot. I was given two parents. That’s already starting above a lot of kids. And then I was given the opportunity to play tennis and parents who supported that. I feel I can give back.”
In other great Serena news, the champion tennis player surpassed her enemy, Maria Sharapova, and is now the world’s highest-paid athlete. According to reports, Serena banked $28.9 million in prize money and endorsements over the last year.
Serena continues to be an inspiration and leader for Black women. She is the definition of #BlackGirlMagic.