The New York Times recently profiled Serena Williams for a about Williams’ impact on tennis, her legacy of Black Excellence, and how she has managed to triumph in a world that wasn’t meant for her to succeed while still remaining her authentic self.
Part of why we love Williams is that she comes across as graceful and determined, even when it comes to frustrating moments that she could melt down about. That being said, in the NYT profile, the interviewer asked her how she felt about coming in second to Maria Sharapova on Forbes’ highest paid female athletes list.
Fun fact: Sharapova makes more money than Williams despite the fact that Williams leads Sharapova 18-2 in their on-court meetings. But Williams, who is very aware of the racism and sexism around her, takes it in stride and delivered a firm and effective response:
‘‘If they want to market someone who is white and blond, that’s their choice. I have a lot of partners who are very happy to work with me. I can’t sit here and say I should be higher on the list because I have won more. I’m happy for her, because she worked hard, too. There is enough at the table for everyone.’’
She later added that she is in the process of opening doors so that the next person can have even more of a chance to shine, stating:
‘‘Maybe it was not meant to be me. Maybe it’s meant to be the next person to be amazing, and I’m just opening the door. Zina Garrison, Althea Gibson, Arthur Ashe and Venus opened so many doors for me. I’m just opening the next door for the next person.’’
Williams is actually working with JPMorgan Chase, Wilson Sporting Goods, Pepsi and Nike, so obviously she’s doing well. However, I’m not mad at her optimistic and diplomatic approach. She has obviously done many things that people said she couldn’t do, just like the predecessors she mentioned, and she doesn’t take that lightly.
One thing is for sure…that #blackgirlmagic is spreading.