With Wimbledon upon us, all that is being discussed is the incredible, empowered Serena Williams. The thirty-four year old, number one ranked women’s tennis player is powerfully and unapologetically juxtaposing with the unspoken societal rules that persuade us to conform to inequality.
Williams profession is a statement itself, being a female athlete is no easy feat and is often riddled with unsporting conditions. For example, even though the U.S. Open women’s tournament sold out faster than the men’s in 2015 (and had higher ratings of viewers in 2013 and 2014); Williams still is paid only half the amount the men’s number one is paid. Williams isn’t just an athlete; she can’t be. Due to her gender her profession is tightly intertwined with the discrepancies between men and women’s athletics. Williams not only has to train at the highest level but consider a onslaught of sexist, racist, or simply incorrect comments and whether to address or ignore them. Consider (one of the several) Indian Wells incidents: the (now former) CEO Raymond Moore stated that the female players in the Women’s Tennis Association “ride on the coattails of the men” and suggested women “go down every night on [their] knees and thank God that Roger Federer and Rafa Nadal were born, because they have carried this sport. They really have.” This sexist comment was not an anomaly, but an everyday occurrence of the shit Serena endures. Serena reminded girls everywhere that, “we shouldn’t have to drop our knees at any point.” She’s not just an athlete, she’s an activist.
Williams, though her body was described as a “monster truck that crushes Volkswagens at sports arenas” a slew of other rude (and odd) analogies, refuses to allow anyone to imprison her in the box of masculinity simply because she is an athlete. Williams’s recent appearance in Beyonce’s video “Sorry” did not include her flexing her muscles, downing protein powder, or thunderously swinging her racket. Rather, dressed in body hugging black leotard, she rolls seductively on the floor, embracing and flaunting her sexuality.
Williams also shows that there is more to life than the desperate, panicked search for a partner many girls engage in. She is enough for herself. It doesn’t stop her from enjoying flings and dates with some of the most sought men (those Drake rumors though…) but exposes the illusion of co-dependence our culture has cultivated.
Serena Williams has an incredible life: she is in a Beyonce video, she is the number one tennis player in the world, she is the face of women’s tennis and she is unmarried, childless and thirty-four. This single life is the stuff of nightmares for my friends and one society concludes can only end with cats and loneliness.
But Williams isn’t lonely. She is God damn powerful. Serena doesn’t tell girls that they can be different, that they can have dreams bigger than settling for a nine to five job and a child in a lukewarm marriage–she shows. The unjust disparities, racism, and sexism she has faced combined with society’s standards of an acceptable life (for a woman) prove to be irrelevant to Williams. She shows that no one, but you, can hold you back from being the best. So ladies, take a cue from Serena and go put on your Empowered By You underwear and kick some ass.