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In 2004, then-22-year-old Williams wrote that one of her goals was to be a size 4. She now says, she will use that article to remind her daughter in the future that she was able to overcome her body image struggles.
In her interview with the Harper’s Bazaar UK for the magazine’s July issue, Williams discussed the constant body shaming that she’s encountered since the beginning of her tennis career. She said, ‘It was hard for me. People would say I was born a guy, all because of my arms, or because I’m strong. I was different to Venus: she was thin and tall and beautiful, and I am strong and muscular – and beautiful, but, you know, it was just totally different.’
Now, she says, “This is me, and this is my weapon and machine.” As she seems to tell us that she learned to love and accept herself. It is difficult for any one of us to imagine this top athlete also had similar body image insecurities many of us have.
Iconic player also talked about the health challenges she encountered during and after the birth of her daughter.
First, the baby became distressed and had to be delivered by emergency C-section; then Serena developed blood clots in her lungs post-operatively, causing her to cough so much she ruptured her caesarean scar and her stomach filled with blood. This cascade of complications necessitated repeated surgery, including the implantation of a filter to prevent pulmonary embolisms migrating to her lungs, followed by weeks of bed rest. ‘What I went through was awful. Looking back, I don’t know how I got through it all. I mean I was praying, I know my mom was praying a lot.'
Since then, the athlete became an activist for maternal and infant health. She wrote an op-ed piece, advocating CNN readers to donate to Unicef to improve maternal and infant mortality rates. ‘I am very fortunate that I am who I am, and also my doctor was very highly recommended, and she listened to me. Most doctors don’t do that, and people are dying, women of colour in particular. The numbers are insane.'
Aside from being a top athlete, mom and wife, Serena also leads philanthropic projects. She has started a venture-capital company that invests in female-led businesses. ‘Just helping them get their foot in the door. That’s been really exciting.’
Photo credit: Eskipaper.com, huffingtonpost.com