Black Excellence: A fascinating delve into the life of Serena Williams
Odds are in favor that if you lived anywhere on planet earth, have internet connection and you are somewhat a sports fan (maybe even not), you have heard of the Williams Sisters in sport. Better still, you have either heard the name Serena Williams or Venus Williams at one point or the other, c’mon I know you have.
Having largely dominated the world of female tennis and tennis sports in general for something close to two decades now, it is almost inevitable that you have heard of this duo.
However today, we’d be mostly focusing on Serena, a legend who has reached almost mythic proportions in the female tennis sports arena. Not only has she won the Grand Slam tournament 23 times, she was also the highest paid female athlete in the world back to back in 2016 and 2017, so it is really not hard to figure out why she is hailed as a legend.
Born in 1981, the youngest of five sisters and raised in Compton, LA (home to gang wars and street violence), Serena’s earliest memory is swinging a racquet at a tennis court. Serena and her sisters were raised by their father to play tennis, praticing for hours on end every day.
But while growing up she was usually overshadowed by her sister Venus, she loved tennis and even excelled at it but her sister had the spotlight, she got all the attention. A newspaper went so far as to say she was just going to be a footnote in her sister’s career, her sister’s stepping stone to greatness, all of this however changed when she won her first grand slam title in 1999 and proved that she is a champion in her right.
Everyone mostly loves and adores Serena now, but looking back, you can’t help but wonder at the resilience it took her to keep playing the game when the odds seemed heavily stacked against her. As a kid, growing up in someone else’s shadow is a tough ordeal, even more so in the world of sports where everything is ultra-competitive.
It is a testament to her determination and willpower that despite all she’s had to deal with (add racism and patronizing to the mix), she still came out on top.
Here are some of my biggest takeaways from the life of Serena Williams:
– You can’t skip the process: Whatever you are aiming for in life, you need to put the effort in, Serena started practicing when she was four and played for hours on end almost every day, which is a whole new twist to hard work.
– You have to learn to roll with the losses: Life is not an episode of Parks and recreation, and you never really appreciate the highs without the lows, no matter how much you love and enjoy winning, somethings you have to take a L. So in those moments when the losses hit, don’t lose sight and get mired in despair, instead try to keep things in perspective and focus on the bigger picture, play for the long haul.
– Even on days when nothing makes sense, still show up: Upon reading Serena’s memoir, one thing is glaringly obvious that despite her love for winning and the game of tennis, she still really strived to fill the shoes of her sister and it is hard to live up to that kind of expectation. It would have probably been easier to bow out and not face that kind of pressure but she still found the courage to face the odds and play on.
– And lastly that you are you and you are unique.
If you are a book freak like me and you are looking for a more in-depth account into Serena Williams’s life, check out her memoir titled “On the line” and thank me later.