She’s widely regarded as one of the world’s greatest female athletes – but Serena Williams says like many women, there was a time she was uncomfortable in her own skin. This week the newly-engaged athlete begins her quest for a staggering 23rd Grand Slam title, and she’s using the spotlight to empower women to embrace their passions and their bodies.
It’s pretty hard not to smile when you watch Serena’s latest ad for Berlei – which draws inspiration from the 80s hit Flashdance. Serena’s solo dance is a huge nod to the iconic scene in the movie, with Serena saying it’s all about finding balance in your life.
“Sometimes we are all so serious and we forget to have fun – and I know that’s me a lot of the time, but it’s so important to have passions in your life that are just for you,” she explains on social media.
“I’m so disciplined every day with my training, but when I dance it’s about letting myself go. What do you do for you?”
Sometimes we are all so serious and we forget to have fun – and I know that’s me a lot of the time, but it’s so important to have passions in your life that are just for you. I’m so disciplined every day with my training, but when I dance it’s about letting myself go. What do you do for you? #DoItForYourself @berleiaus @berleiusa
A video posted by Serena Williams (@serenawilliams) on
‘I felt I was too strong’
The 35-year-old has been subjected to incredibly unfair scrutiny in her amazingly successful career – because she’s a women, she’s African American and her body type exudes strength.
“There was a time when I didn’t feel incredibly comfortable about my body because I felt like I was too strong. I had to take a second and think, ‘Who says I’m too strong? This body has enabled me to be the greatest player that I can be,'” she explained in a special aired on ESPN.
Her muscular body doesn’t fit the stereotypical woman’s shape, but now Serena says her beautiful physique is something many women are striving for.
“And now my body is in style, so I’m feeling good about it. Like, I’m finally in style! It took a while to get there. I’m just really thankful for the way I was brought up by my mum and my dad to give me that confidence.
“I could have been discouraged, and I wouldn’t be as great as I was because I would have done different exercises or I would have done different things. I totally embrace who I am and what I am.”
Why can’t women be confident?
Serena has never shied away from showing off her incredible body; on the court in her fabulously flamboyant tennis dresses, and off the court for Berlei. Her confidence is something to be admired, particularly when you realise just how much this incredible athlete has always believed in herself.
“At a very young age, I think I was 17, I stopped reading any press about me. I think that helped me avoid a lot of the scrutiny, and I kind of put myself in a bubble. I feel like I definitely was scrutinised because I was confident — I was black and I was confident.
“And I am black and I am confident. But I would say, ‘I feel like I can be No. 1.’ Well, why shouldn’t I say that? If I don’t think I’m going to be the best, why do I play?”
What an amazing attitude, and a brilliant role model for our girls and women in general. Your body is whatever you want it to be.