Serena Williams Talks Sports, Race And Ignoring Haters For The Fader Cover Story
Ya girl Serena stay winning! The Compton bred tennis champ graces the October/November “America” issue of The Fader magazine and Williams wasn’t too shy to show plenty skin. The feature focuses a lot on her blackness, but Serena is pretty quick to dismiss the importance of her race and sex in the story.
Peep one such excerpt below via The Fader:
Do you feel like your story is universal, or was this path unique to you and who you are?
I think that my story is universal. I don’t think it’s limited to my country, I don’t think it’s limited to my color, I don’t think it’s limited to my sex. I think it’s universal because I was not born with anything more special than anyone else. I wasn’t born with an extra arm. I wasn’t born super tall. I’m here — a lot of hard work, a lot of dedication, a lot of commitment. And I’ve had a lot of people that didn’t believe in me, so I had to develop a lot of self-belief. At the end of the day, I think it’s a story that everyone in all walks of life can relate to.
We’re sure there is plenty there to relate to — but Serena has accomplished some pretty amazing things. Pretty sure most folks can’t relate to winning all them trophies!
Peep a full version of the BTS video below
Keep flipping for more shots and quotes from the story.
Photography by Jody Rogac
One of the things that Serena revealed as being important to her was her travels, specifically to Africa.
Why is travel so important to you?
Being African-American, I’ve always dreamt of going back to Africa. That was just my main goal for as long as I can remember. I gotta get back to Africa. I want to see my roots, where I’m from. I want to see the struggle. I want to see the slave castles. I need to see that journey. I just wouldn’t have felt full if I had never experienced that.
And I think it changed me. It changed me to realize how strong I was and to realize that I, through my ancestors, am capable of doing anything. I’m really capable. They endured the toughest, and only the strongest survived. I realized that I was built from this incredible bloodline that many different types of people aren’t built from. The whole journey, and just visiting other places throughout the world as well, has been really educational for me and uplifting.
What about the way you were raised made you think about Africa as a place you had to go?
My parents always told me, “In order to be the best you can be, you have to know your history.” History can create a lot of knowledge. All my family, we wanted to learn about where we came from. Being black in America, you don’t really know where you come from. You don’t really know your last name. You don’t really know a lot of things. So for me it was always important to visit that. And we were just raised to love one another and to put up with one another and to have intense affection for each other and protect each other. Throughout our lives, usually most tournaments I go to my family comes too. They’re always around. They’re always there.
That’s dope that Serena comes from such a close knit family. Did you have any idea that Africa held such importance to her?
With all her international experience, Serena is now fluent in French, but it’s been widely ERRONEOUSLY reported that she learned the language to help her communicate with her coach Patrick Mouratoglou despite the fact that she’s been studying French since her tween years.
Peep the real story below:
You’re also fluent in French. Why did you decide to learn?
It’s so funny because I was at the Olympic Village the other day, and I was talking to this African athlete. A lot of Africans speak French, and I noticed that his English wasn’t great, so I started speaking French to him. He stopped and was like, “You speak French?” and I was like, “Yeah.” And he said, “But you’re American…” And I’m like, “Yeah.” And he’s like, “But no Americans speak other languages.” And I was like, “Yeah, that’s true!”
Venus is really fluent, much more so than me. One of the reasons I learned French was I wanted to win the French Open, and I wanted to speak French when I won. The second was because, most African countries, the main language outside of their local language is French or English. So I figured: I know English, maybe I can learn French.
Great story right!?
Serena’s body has been the focus of so much public attention, both negative and positive, but she poses fearlessly for The Fader issue, often showing off her butt, legs and thighs…
Here’s what she had to say about the scrutiny:
How did you deal with people commenting about your body when you were younger, and how do you deal with it now?
I’ve purposely tuned people out since I was 17. At the time, it was basically newspapers and maybe a website article. Maybe if the web was up back then. Since the day I won the U.S. Open, my very first Grand Slam, I never read articles about myself. If I saw my name mentioned, I’d look away. I looked at the pictures, but that’s pretty much it. I didn’t want to get too cocky, and at the same time I didn’t want to have that negative energy. I don’t know why I did it, but I did it. Ever since then I’ve been really low-key.
People have been talking about my body for a really long time. Good things, great things, negative things. People are entitled to have their opinions, but what matters most is how I feel about me, because that’s what’s going to permeate the room I’m sitting in. It’s going to make you feel that I have confidence in myself whether you like me or not, or you like the way I look or not, if I do. That’s the message I try to tell other women and in particular young girls. You have to love you, and if you don’t love you no one else will. And if you do love you, people will see that and they’ll love you too.
That’s a great philosophy. Definitely sounds like Serena is body positive.
There are a few topics that Serena won’t talk much about. One is politics, but it turns out she has a faith based reason why. She’s a Jehovah’s Witness…
I know your religion is super important to you, and that Jehovah’s Witnesses don’t usually talk about politics. Is there a place where you draw the line between “social questions” and politics?
Issues that I feel that I live in and am dealing with, like, Oh, do I deserve less prize money because I’m a female? — yeah, that’s something I do speak about.
Do you speak about the possibility America will elect a woman president?
Yeah. How I feel about that is it would be different if a woman was president. But I don’t get involved in politics because of my religion.
Another topic that’s off limits — dating!
In the past you and Venus have said that you are married to each other, or that you don’t think you’ll get married until you’re done with tennis. But that was a while ago. Where does dating fit in now that you’re older?
That’s something that I just really don’t talk a lot about, that I just keep totally separate and totally private. It’s one of the few things that I try to keep private as much as I can.
And it turns out that Serena is big on crafting her dance moves — it’s not just for Beyoncé videos or Instagram!
What’s the most purely fun part of your normal day?
Oh gosh, I have fun doing little things, just going and hanging out with my friends. The other day I was at my friend’s apartment — she had a glass of wine, and we were just catching up and just talking. I think because I’m always on the road a lot, I usually don’t get a ton of time to do that type of stuff. I’m usually the jester of the group, so I kinda enjoy making all the jokes.
I actually love dancing as well. I’ve been taking dance classes because it’s actually super challenging. I have a lot of friends that take it with me. I make fun of them, and they make fun of me in the class. We do it year-round, and we always see who’s improved the most, then bam, put on a show, which is kinda ridiculous but really fun.
What did you think about what Serena had to say? Will you be picking up this issue?