How Serena Williams' TED Talk Won Hearts

Published on 10 Jun 2017 . 5 min read

A few months ago, ace tennis player Serena Williams took the Internet and the world by storm when she announced her pregnancy days after winning her 23rd Grand Slam title. In a moment, the badass sportswoman shattered all glass ceilings along with myths about how pregnancy restricts women. And all of us couldn’t help but marvel in awe.

While the world knows the person she is on the tennis court, this incident brought the real Serena Williams and her spirit into the limelight. In a beautiful Ted Talk in conversation with journalist Gayle King, she revealed that her pregnancy announcement was actually an accident. She had been taking a picture every week and this once, she slipped and ended up sharing the picture on social media. She only realised it had been made official when phone calls started pouring in to congratulate her.

The heartfelt talk also had her baring her soul. Here are some things we took away and which will continue to inspire us for years to come:

1. On Motherhood
Just a few weeks after her accidental pregnancy announcement, Williams took to social media yet again to pen a heartfelt little note to her unborn baby. Thanking her baby for giving her the strength she never knew she had, she goes on to say that she couldn’t wait to meet him or her. Yet, the most important moment for her was to be able to share being world number one with her baby – the world’s oldest number one along with the world’s youngest number one. My heart just melted, you guys, pass me those tissues!

2. On Winning
Nobody's a stranger to the fact that when Serena Williams plays, she plays to win. Winning is unimaginably important to her. From a very young age, she would follow the journey of ace tennis stars and make them her role models because it was against her core nature to aim for anything less than number 1. So how does the pregnancy fit into the picture? People naturally tend to get tired or sick when they are pregnant but Serena will have none of it. She takes all the negative energy before a game and imagines putting it into a paper bag and throwing it away. She has no room for anything but single-minded focus because pregnant or not, she is supposed to win that tournament like any other tournament she’s played.

3. On Losing
Serena doesn’t shy away from accepting the fact that she is a sore loser. Winning for her is super-addictive. Once you experience it, you always want to get that feeling again. When she won her first championship, she was only 17 years old, but she never forgot that feeling, and every time she wins one, she wants to reach that feeling of the first championship. Obviously she doesn't like the feeling of losing. Or as she would like to put it, she is number one at losing too. Way to go, Serena!

As much as she hates to lose, she says losing has brought her where she is. The only reason she is who she is, is because of her losses. While some of them have been extremely painful, she wouldn't take any of them away, because every time she loses, it takes a really long time for her to lose again because she learns so much from it.

4. On Relationships
Of all the relationships in her life, her most important relationship is with her sister, tennis champion Venus Williams. She calls Venus the love of her life, best friend and soul mate. So what are the dynamics like when she is pitted opposite her on a tennis court? Serena says playing Venus is like playing herself. They grew up practising with each other and she can predict Serena’s next move before she makes it. This makes Venus her toughest opponent. During the match, all Serena thinks about is how she is playing a tough opponent but she has to show up and be better. It is immaterial whether it is her sister or her friend, she is playing to win. But as soon as the game is over, they shake hands and are best friends again.  In a world where rivalry trickles into personal relationships and makes it ugly, these are some serious #SisterGoals, aren’t they?

5. On embracing yourself
Serena says that she is always surrounded by young women who even come to her locker room to get her autograph or click selfies with her. She feels the need to be a good role model to them. And one can’t inspire others unless one is at peace with self. For a long time, she too struggled with body issues because of her muscles. She felt her body was masculine and didn’t understand why she had those muscles even when she had stopped lifting weights. However, after winning the US Open, she learnt how her body helped her reach goals that she wanted to reach. She learnt to love and appreciate herself for who she was.

We raise our hats to you, Serena Williams. Keep showing the world what you’re made of.

Palak Kapadia

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