Thank You Serena Williams: A Woman Who Redefined Being a Female Athlete

October 16, 2022

Babe Ruth, Lionel Messi and Michael Jordan are all considered to be some of the greatest athletes of all time. I would like to add one more to that list: Serena Williams. She’s not one of the greatest female athletes of all time, she’s one of the greatest athletes of all time.

Originally published in The Coat of Arms Edition 49.1: Williams is an impressive example of someone with love and respect for her sport. Staff Illustration: Sophie Fang

Serena Williams played her last tennis match at the 2022 U.S. Open, one of the most prestigious tennis tournaments in the world, on Friday, Sept. 2. Her match broke ESPN’s viewership record for the most watched tennis match of all time with 4.8 million spectators. The previous record had been set by another tennis great, Roger Federer, at 3.9 million.

Williams meant, and continues to mean, so much to the tennis world and so much to her fans. Her career spanned 27 years and to say that her time in tennis was impressive is an understatement: she holds 23 singles Grand Slam titles, the most by any player, male or female, in the Open Era, 14 doubles Grand Slam Titles and two mixed doubles Grand Slam Titles. Williams is not just an incredible athlete, but also a leader off the court. Her success inspires women all over the country to believe in their capabilities and to not feel limited by their race or gender.

Williams can teach us, women in general and female athletes specifically, so much. Her success demonstrated that female athletes are just as competitive and driven as male athletes. She performed with an aggressive style of play that was not previously expected from female athletes. Strength and power are not typically valued in women, and there continues to be an expectation that female athletes should be dainty and treated delicately. Furthermore, the physical appearance of female athletes tends to be valued over what they can do. The expectation that we remain thin while practicing, lifting and conditioning long hours is harmful and, frankly, ridiculous. Williams is open about the fact that she did not always see “strength” as a value in the bodies of female athletes. Her openness about being impacted by those expectations both in tennis, but also in athletics in general, helps female athletes be proud of their strength and physique.

Along with her positive impact on body image, Williams also teaches us so much about work ethic and drive. She did not settle after wins; she continued to push herself, part of what allowed her to be so good for so long. She is an impressive example of someone with love and respect for her sport. A 27-year career is not possible without that devotion. Yes, she made money, and according to Forbes, more than any other female athlete, but her intensity and the way she kept coming back even after accomplishing so much is what made that love clear. Female athletes everywhere strive for that love; after a loss or win or to continue finding it after a long period of time.

Serena revolutionized tennis, but she also did so much more. She taught us how to appreciate our physicalities, love fiercely and work meaningfully. For that, I thank her.

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About the Contributor
Photo of Annie Stent
Annie Stent, Copy Editor

Number of years in The Coat of Arms: 3

Favorite aspect of journalism: writing stories on topics I’m passionate about

Interests outside of school: volleyball, spending time with friends and family, walking my dogs

Class of 2023

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