Tennis legend Serena Williams recently wrote a powerful open-letter to encourage “to all incredible women who strive for excellence” to rise above sexism in sports and beyond. Her words were published in the December issue of Porter magazine and for the Incredible Women of 2016 issue reprinted in the Guardian.
According to the Huffington Post, Williams opens up about wanting to be the best tennis player in the world—not just the best female one.
“People call me one of the ‘world’s greatest female athletes.’ Do they say LeBron is one of the world’s best male athletes? Is Tiger? Federer? Why not? They are certainly not female.”
She also stressed how lucky she has been to have such a strong support system over the years.
“I was fortunate to have a family that supported my dream and encouraged me to follow it,” she wrote. “I learned how important it is to fight for a dream and, most importantly, to dream big. My fight began when I was three and I haven’t taken a break since.”
The 35-year-old also didn’t shy away from talking about how being Black and female has created roadblocks in her career but Williams stressed that she always rises above the hate to succeed.
“As we know, women have to break down many barriers on the road to success,” she wrote. “One of those barriers is the way we are constantly reminded we are not men, as if it is a flaw.” But that never got in her way.”
She added: “What others marked as flaws or disadvantages about myself – my race, my gender – I embraced as fuel for my success. I never let anything or anyone define me or my potential. I controlled my future.”