MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - JANUARY 26: Serena Williams of the United States serves in her semifinal match against Mirjana Lucic-Baroni of Croatia on day 11 of the 2017 Australian Open at Melbourne Park on January 26, 2017 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Quinn Rooney/Getty Images)
Serena Williams Discusses Power, Race, And Returning To Tennis After Pregnancy
Serena Williamsopened up about issues such as power and race, as well as her plan to return to tennis shortly after the birth of her first child, in an exclusive interview with Vogue this week.
Serena Williams return to tennis news
The 35-year-old American — who is the world’s highest-paid female athlete — is expecting her first child with fiancee Alexis Ohanian, the co-founder of Reddit.
The 23-time Grand Slam champion, who is now eight months pregnant, said she felt many people perceived her as “tough” and “mean” simply because she is African-American. Williams said she thinks she had to work harder than other white female tennis players like Russian blonde Maria Sharapova— a five-time Grand Slam winner — who have accomplished less than her in order to gain the public’s approval.
“I feel like people think I’m mean,” Williams told Vogue. “Really tough and really mean and really street.”
“I believe that the other girls in the locker room will say, ‘Serena’s really nice.’ But Maria Sharapova, who might not talk to anybody, might be perceived by the public as nicer.”
“Why is that? Because I’m black and so I look mean? That’s the society we live in. That’s life. They say African-Americans have to be twice as good, especially women. I’m perfectly OK with having to be twice as good.”
Williams recently appeared on the covers of both Vogue and Vanity Fair, for whom she posed nude.
“The success of one woman should be the inspiration to another, and I’m always trying to inspire and motivate the black girls out there,” Williams said in explaining why she decided to pose for Vanity Fair.”
“I’m not a model. I’m not the girl next door. But I’m not hiding.”
“Actually, I look like a lot of women out there. The American woman is many women, and I think it’s important to speak to American women at a time when they need encouragement. I’m not political, but I think everyone is worried, to a degree.”
Williams surpassed German legend and former World No. 1 Steffi Graf’s record of most Grand Slam victories in the Open era by winning the Australian Open in January.
The American has not played since then, but said she is hoping to return to tennis in Melbourne next January to defend that title.
“It’s the most outrageous plan,” she admitted. “I just want to put that out there. That’s, like, three months after I give birth. I’m not walking anything back, but I’m just saying it’s pretty intense.”
“In this game you can go dark fast. If I lose, and I lose again, it’s like, she’s done. Especially since I’m not 20 years old. I’ll tell you this much: I won’t win less. Either I win, or I don’t play.”
Should Williams capture that tournament, she would match Margaret Court’s all-time singles record of 24 grand slams.
Finally, Williams spoke about what the word “power” means to her, and about the negative connotation many women feel it carries when it applies to them.
“Not only me, but women in general sometimes feel that power is a bad word,” she said.
“As I’ve gotten older I’ve started to feel differently about it. Power is beauty. Strength is beauty. So now on the court I want people to think that I’m powerful.”
“But I also want them to be shocked at how I play. I want people to expect something, then get something different.”
MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA – JANUARY 26: Serena Williams of the United States serves in her semifinal match against Mirjana Lucic-Baroni of Croatia on day 11 of the 2017 Australian Open at Melbourne Park on January 26, 2017 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Quinn Rooney/Getty Images)