There's no denying that Serena Williams is a boss both on and off the court. She has won 23 singles titles, broken countless records, has a successful clothing line, and is a philanthropist, activist, and working mom who is fighting for other moms out there. If you need some motivation in your life—even if you're not an aspiring tennis player—you can look to this strong, smart, and capable woman for inspiration.
So as big fans of Serena, and because today is her 38th birthday, we rounded up some of our favorite quotes from the superstar athlete. Read on and just bask in the wisdom.
On speaking up for herself: "Ever since I was a little girl, I've felt a need to voice my opinion and be heard. Some may not like it, and to be honest, that's their prerogative. I respect it. Growing up as the youngest of five girls, I learned that I had to fight for everything I wanted. And I won't ever stop raising my voice against injustice."
On dealing with body-shaming: "It isn't easy to be on the world stage and have people comment about your body. 'It's too strong.' 'It's too much.' There's always criticism about what I wear. Is it too sexy? Is it too fashionable? Is it too much? When criticism happens, I try to take a moment to appreciate myself. There will always be criticism—you have to have so much self-confidence and love for yourself. Once you have that wall of confidence, the criticism can hit against that wall and bounce right off."
On criticism: "I've been called [a] man because I appeared outwardly strong. It has been said that … I use drugs (No, I have always had far too much integrity to behave dishonestly in order to gain an advantage). It has been said I don't belong in women's sports—that I belong in men's—because I look stronger than many other women do. (No, I just work hard and I was born with this badass body and proud of it)."
On perfection: "I want to make it clear that perfection is an impossible goal and should never be a true pursuit in life. And this is something I've had to come to terms with myself. Now that I have Olympia, she is my absolute priority—spending as much time as possible with her every day is so important to me. But I’m still training to win Grand Slams and sometimes I have to make hard choices about how I spend my time."
On workplace equality: "While I think all women are superheroes, we are not superhuman and we need each other's support. We need to give each other grace when we fall short—and when society sets unrealistic expectations or our workplaces have antiquated rules. We must band together and fight for what's fair."
On what she hopes to teach her daughter: "My dreams are just beginning and being a mom is a part of that now. I want Olympia to see and remember her mom winning a Grand Slam title. I want her to know that my work fulfills me, that I'm proud and passionate about what I do even if I'm not perfect at it, and that she should never give up on her dreams. I want her to see a world of possibilities at her feet and to believe in those first steps she took when I was training, every time she takes a leap toward her goals—however big the risk."
On the pressures of motherhood: "It's totally normal to feel like I'm not doing enough for my baby. We have all been there. I work a lot, I train, and I'm trying to be the best athlete I can be. However, that means although I have been with her every day of my life, I'm not around as much as I would like to be. Most of you moms deal with the same thing. Whether stay-at-home or working, finding that balance with kids is a true art. You are the true heroes. I'm here to say: if you are having a rough day or week—it’s ok—I am, too!!! Theres always tomm[orrow]!"
On perseverance: "But as we know, too often women are not supported enough or are discouraged from choosing their path. I hope together we can change that. For me, it was a question of resilience. What others marked as flaws or disadvantages about myself—my race, my gender—I embraced as fuel for my success. I never let anything or anyone define me or my potential. I controlled my future."
On gender equality: "As we know, women have to break down many barriers on the road to success. One of those barriers is the way we are constantly reminded we are not men, as if it is a flaw. People call me one of the 'world's greatest female athletes'. Do they say LeBron is one of the world's best male athletes? Is Tiger? Federer? Why not? They are certainly not female. We should never let this go unchallenged. We should always be judged by our achievements, not by our gender."
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