Serena Williams is the greatest athlete in the world — I'm certain this is fact by now. The U.S. tennis player literally has too many titles and records to name, and to say she has changed the world of professional sports forever is probably an understatement. She also happens to be a role model and inspiration off the court. In a new issue of Allure, Serena Williams talked about confidence, and her words of wisdom and strength are so inspiring, even those of us who aren't so athletically inclined (ahem, me).
Williams has a state of mind that Allure has accurately called "unapologetic greatness," and it's a powerful, uncommon quality. Williams told the outlet that this confidence, this unyielding, determined belief in herself, comes from her mother. And it's something that the 37-year-old athlete intends to pass on to her own daughter, the undeniably adorable Alexis Olympia Ohanian Jr.
Williams described to Allure what it was like for her as a young black woman in tennis, and how she and her sister Venus didn't have many athletic role models when they were starting out. They had to boldly forge a path for themselves, and they did so with major grace, if I do say so myself.
Williams told Allure,
There weren’t a lot of role models for me to look up to [in the sport] and say, ‘Wow, I want to look like this!’... I kind of had to be that role and be that person.
Venus and I started out being successful, continued to be successful, and we were also unapologetically ourselves. We were not afraid to wear braids. We weren’t afraid to be black in tennis. And that was different.
Williams went on to say that she really credits her mother with instilling, in both her and Venus, a sense of pride in their skin color, their hair, and their bodies, in a world that often told them otherwise. "That was something that was really important for her to teach us,” Williams told Allure. "I’m definitely teaching it to my daughter.”
But first, foremost, and most importantly, Williams said she wants to teach her daughter that true beauty comes from the inside:
When I tell her she’s beautiful, I want to teach her that she’s beautiful from the inside. Giving is beauty. Being kind and humble is the ultimate beauty.
The tennis player, businesswoman, and proud mama also got real with the lifestyle outlet about how maintaining this admirable strength and sense of self is no easy feat. Rather, it seems like it's something that she constantly tries to keep an intelligent, grateful perspective on, which simply doesn't always come naturally. It's clear that Williams has learned this, at least in part, from those who came before her, like her mother, and more than anything, it seems, she wants to pass these important lessons on to her daughter Olympia.
Williams told Allure,
I want her to know that being strong is never easy. Not in this world we are living in.... Standing up for yourself is not going to be easy, but it’s always eventually respected. Those are the people who’ve made a difference in this world, people that stand up for what’s right. If you look at history, those are the people that you really remember. And at the time, oh, my God, it seemed impossible.
I'm not crying, you're crying.