It is match point. Serena Williams’ diamond studded outfit sparkles under the lights. Williams throws the ball into the water. The crowd takes a deep breath. She serves. The ball bounces back and forth, until she finally hits it into the net. The match is over. Williams’ career comes to an end as she bows out of her final tennis tournament. The crowd erupts into applause, commemorating her groundbreaking accomplishments as a Black woman in tennis. It is not just her outfit that continues to shine; it is her legacy as well.
Serena Williams entered the 2022 US Open to conclude her extraordinary career. In the third round of the women’s singles, she came up short against Ajla Tomljanovic, an Australian player. After three suspenseful hours of tennis, Williams’ career came to a close. The final score was 7-5, 6-7, 6-1.
Williams has a long list of achievements and success behind her. She shares a record of 186 consecutive weeks as number one in the world with Steffi Graf, a fellow tennis legend from Germany. In addition, Williams has 23 Grand Slam singles titles and four Olympic gold medals to her name. These incredible stats don’t even begin to encapsulate her accomplishments.
Although I am not a huge tennis fan, Williams’ success has left a profound impact on me. Her legacy transcends tennis.
Williams started playing tennis at a very young age. Richard Williams, her father, trained both her and her sister, Venus, on the public courts of Compton, Los Angeles. The Williams sisters did not grow up wealthy with access to private tennis facilities and instructors. Considering their lack of resources, it is remarkable that they were able to rise to the top so quickly. Serena and Venus’ tenacity and hard work gave them the edge over the competition.
William’s talent and resolve is motivating. As an athlete, I find William’s determination and diligence to be inspiring. She was able to climb up from the bottom and make a name for herself. William’s unbelievable story makes me want to work harder and be the best version of myself.
In addition, Williams has since then shattered racial boundaries. Tennis used to be considered a predominantly white sport. Williams changed this. She has opened the doors for other Black athletes in tennis such as Naomi Osaka and Coco Gauff and serves as a role model for young Black girls.
Although I am not a huge tennis fan, Williams’ success has left a profound impact on me. Her legacy transcends tennis”
— Gabriella Gerig ’23
In addition to tackling racial barriers, she has also encouraged an increase in attention to women’s sports and inspired equality. Female athletes are often overlooked and underappreciated. I firsthand understand the challenges women face in athletics. Williams has changed some of this outlook with her sheer athleticism and powerful play.
Williams has helped to redefine what it means to be a woman. A woman can be both beautiful and strong. It is not only okay to be powerful and loud, it is important. In addition, Williams’ ability to emphasize femininity in strength has improved body positivity in female athletes. It has given me as well as other female athletes the confidence to be unapologetically themselves.
“But I’d like to think that thanks to opportunities afforded to me, women athletes feel that they can be themselves on the court,” Williams said in her Vogue columns. “They can play with aggression and pump their fists. They can be strong yet beautiful. They can wear what they want and say what they want and kick butt and be proud of it all.”
Williams has become a symbol for Black and female empowerment. She will forever be enshrined in athletic history as not only a highly decorated athlete but as an inspirational figure.