Serena Williams opens up about motherhood: 'I think I'm good at it, but I want to explore if I can be great at it'

·4 min read

Serena Williams is leaning into her G.O.A.T. status.

The tennis phenom, 40, has previously played coy concerning claims dubbing her the greatest athlete of all time, but in a recent interview with Time, she acknowledged the ways in which she has changed the game of tennis and upped the ante in sports forever.

"I don't know any other person that has won a Grand Slam or a championship in the NBA or anything else nine weeks pregnant," Williams said, acknowledging her career accomplishments, which include 23 Grand Slam titles, including an Australian Open victory while pregnant. "An athlete isn't just about what an animal you are physically, like a specimen. It's using everything. Your mind, your body, everything. And doing that for 20 years. And doing it against people that come against you and play the best game of their life. Every single time. You can come to your own conclusion after that."

Williams's influence also extends beyond the courts as she has inadvertently become a beacon of self-confidence in the face of skin-based discrimination.

"A lot of people feel they're not pretty or they're not cute enough because their skin is dark," she said.

But Williams' carefully curated sense of self that has been built upon since childhood, has allowed her to exist happily as her most authentic self: in a world that encourages anything but.

"I think people could feel my confidence, because I was always told, 'You look great. Be Black and be proud,'" she said. "You don't let the world decide beauty. And me being thicker or whatever, I mean, curves are popular now. Butts are popular. I'm trying to lose mine, and people are trying to get mine."

Beyond her own odds-defying self-esteem, Williams is grateful she has been able to set a new standard of confidence and self-belief for young girls who look like her, which she regards as her true legacy. And while Williams has achieved a level of athletic prestige to rival that of fables, but her life's work is still far from finished.

In August, she announced her retirement from tennis in Vogue, acknowledging the complexities of being a high-performing athlete and mother.

"It comes to a point where women sometimes have to make different choices than men, if they want to raise a family," said Williams, who turns 41 in September. "It's just black and white. You make a choice or you don't."

But she is not bitter towards the change in the slightest.

"There is no anger, I’m ready for the transition," Williams explained, expressing excitement towards her next chapter of motherhood. "I think I’m good at it, but I want to explore if I can be great at it."

While this doesn't mean she'll never pick up a racket again, her current goals extend beyond title matches.

Her venture capital firm, Serena Ventures, has allowed Williams to help bridge the wealth gap, as 80% of the companies in the firm's portfolio were founded by women or people of color.

"It's not that I've lost my passion for tennis, I just get more love and more joy out of what I do in the VC space," she says.

But there is perhaps no greater joy for Williams than that of motherhood. She shares daughter, Olympia, 4, with husband Alexis Ohanian and revealed Olympia could not be happier to hear her mother is retiring from tennis.

"Olympia doesn't like when I play tennis," she said. While she understands most kids don't enjoy their parents being busy with work, the sentiment does sting a bit.

"That kind of makes me sad," she said, adding that it did impact her outlook on the game. "It's hard to completely commit, when your flesh and blood is saying, 'Aw.'"

Something Olympia is excited about? Becoming a big sister one day. Williams revealed that Olympia recently blew on a dandelion wishing for a baby sister.

"This is what I have to deal with, on a daily," she said.

It does appear that Olympia may be getting her wish after all, as Williams wants to give her the same large family network she had growing up.

"When I look at Olympia, I'm really not performing at my peak, by not trying harder to give her that sibling. Coming from a big family, and coming from five, there's nothing better," she said.

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