Serena Williams Made Me Rediscover Persistence

Serena Williams Made Me Rediscover Persistence

serena williams harpars bazzar

I have never been too concerned with being athletic. I could have been an athlete; but, at some point in my life, I became content with quitting. Content with doing the bare minimum. Content with being okay.

The first sport I got an interest in was track while I was in middle school. At my first track meet, my teammates and I weren’t the best, but I remember the potential we all had to be greater. The potential I had to be greater. I also remember feeling as if I was close to death running the last lap of whatever meter I was running. However, I significantly remember being about 500 feet away from the finish line and mustering up the strength to sprint to the finish line. I gave it my all. At some point in my life, I stopped mustering the strength to give my ALL and settled on giving some.

Serena & Venus Williams always intrigued me because of their physique. They were Black girls who looked black. They didn’t conform to the typical standards of Eurocentric beauty and were grown ass women who wore beads at the end of their braids. They appeared to be rough around the edges with rough edges. It’s one of the many reasons I love me some Williams sisters. To see royalty in the sports realm with a feature that mimics your own is liberating AF and I stan those queens.

Recently, Serena published a candid essay to Hapar’s Bazaar detailing the controversial 2018 Grand Slam match against winner Naomi Osaka and battling gender inequality in tennis. 

Serena unabashedly sounds off on her accolades reminding us of her 23 Grand Slam singles titles (39 total) and the medals in her Black Girl Magic trophy room that are too many to count. Pulled from the article herself, sis admits her family is just that great saying, “We wouldn’t stop winning.” Need I remind you that Venus and Serena father was the first inductee in the American Tennis Association Hall of Fame for his triumphs as his daughters’ first tennis coach rising them to fame.

In Serena’s essay, she reminds us of the constant hardships she faced to even get to the point she’s at in her career today. She has been ridiculed (I know y’all remember this), discriminated, penalized, and even booed at a game to not just to be the fearless tennis player but a woman who’s now a wife and mother. If anyone has gone through it, it’s Serena.

I read Serena’s essay and was instantly struck by her vulnerability and honesty in her trials and tribulations as a tennis champ. So often we see celebrities—of different categories—go through every minute of his/her ups and downs without truly appreciating the downs. Here we have a tennis player who isn’t new to winning admit that it was her fault she lost a Grand Slam title b/c she might not have been as focused as her opponent. I remember hearing about this story as it happened last year and seeing how visibly upset Serena was with the umpire penalizing her for alleged cheating and feeling her reaction was justified. I don’t care what anyone says, you don’t cheat your way to 23 Grand Slam titles. It’s a God-given talent in your blood. To accuse someone of a serious offense like cheating and being met with a serious rebuttal is not being an egotistic sore loser. At that point, it’s about defending your honor. An honor that has caused Serena to defend everything from her athleticism to her body because many critics find it hard to believe she’s too good to be a girl……..a Black girl.

Although I am nowhere close to level of athletic capability as Serena, I know what it’s like to be punished in the workplace for speaking your mind. I know what’s it like to be made out to feel small for not staying in your place. I know what it’s like to be portrayed as the stereotypical angry Black girl. It’s a stigma that is easy to earn but hard to refute. Why is that? Take away the racial construct: why can’t women/girls express frustration without being labeled irrational?

Was I wrong to stand up? Why is it that when women get passionate, they’re labeled emotional, crazy, and irrational, but when men do they’re seen as passionate and strong?”

Serena Williams

As I continued to read Serena’s essay I thought to myself if Serena can pick back up her tennis racket I can pick myself back up too. I love this excerpt from the essay:

It’s not about quitting when someone presents a challenge; it’s about getting up when you are down, dusting yourself off and asking, “Is that the best you got?” Because I have God with me, and I can take whatever comes my way.

Serena Williams

She’s right though. Listen, life is always gonna present challenges and sometimes it’s the people in your life who present the problems. However, this essay sparked my persistence to not stay down when I FEEL down. So get up, dust yourself off, and give it the best you got.

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