Serena Williams covers the latest issue of Time Magazine. The cover story acts as a preview for the US Open, which starts on August 27th, but the interview is about a lot more than that. What’s extraordinary about Serena in the past year is that she’s letting us into her life more than ever before. The tough girl with the tennis racquet who rarely spoke about her off-court life has become a bundle of emotion. She wears her heart on her sleeve now, and it feels like she could cry at any moment. It’s been a journey for her and for her fans, and it’s incredible that she’s let us see her so vulnerable. You can read the full Time piece here. Some highlights:
Losing in the Wimbledon final: “I dedicated that to all the moms out there who’ve been through a lot. Some days, I cry. I’m really sad. I’ve had meltdowns. It’s been a really tough 11 months. If I can do it, you guys can do it too.”
Why she keeps playing: “I’m not done yet, simple. My story doesn’t end here.”
Marrying Alexis: “I always assumed I’d marry a black guy. I always felt that I could relate more with a black guy, that we’d have more struggles in common, you know?”
How coach Patrick Mouratoglou told her to stop nursing, for the sake of her game. “It’s absolutely hard to take from a guy. He’s not a woman, he doesn’t understand that connection, that the best time of the day for me was when I tried to feed her. I’ve spent my whole life making everyone happy, just servicing it seems like everyone. And this is something I wanted to do. I looked at Olympia, and I was like, ‘Listen, Mommy needs to get her body back, so Mommy’s going to stop now.’ We had a really good conversation. We talked it out.”
She did prep to play Angie Kerber. “I really wish I hadn’t done that. Because she played much, much harder than she’s ever played in her life. Hit nothing like she normally does. I was like, O.K., this is classic. Why did I do this? Just focus on Serena. That’s when I do my best.”
Mom struggles: “Sometimes she just wants Mommy, she doesn’t want anyone else. I still have to learn a balance of being there for her, and being there for me. I’m working on it. I never understood women before, when they put themselves in second or third place. And it’s so easy to do. It’s so easy to do.”
On drug testing: The United States Anti-Doping Agency has tested Serena five times in 2018, according to its records. Meanwhile Sloane Stephens, who won the U.S. Open a year ago, has been tested once. Serena called such differences “discrimination” on Twitter and thinks it’s because some people won’t accept that she’s clean. “Look at me,” she says, glancing at her herself in a mirror at home. “I was born this way. They’re like, ‘Oh, she can’t be that great, she must be doing something.’ I don’t even lift weights.” Serena laughs. “It’s all God, you know,” she says. “But whatever.”
On all of the bulls–t that gets thrown at her: “I’m a black woman. Women in general are not treated the same as men who’ve had the same amount of success. And then, being a black woman, doing something historically that’s never been done, it’s easy to feel like, ‘We’ve always picked on people of this color. So I’m O.K. to continue to do it.’”
On the US Open: “I’m trying to get a new vibe there but I’m not going in there thinking I’m going to lose. That’s not being Serena. That’s being someone else.”
I watched Being Serena and it was incredible to see her journey, and to see the relationships she has with her husband AND her coach. Patrick is connected to her in such a big way too, and I sometimes feel like… Patrick is the only one in her life who will really give her the tough talks and hard truths. Patrick believes that Serena can come back and win more Slams, but he also knows how hard she’ll have to work to get there. Honestly, I don’t think she’s there yet. Maybe next year?
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Photos courtesy of Getty, Time.
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