Tennis great Serena Williams is just 18 days into her new status as a mother, and she’s loving it. It must be amazing to look at someone so beautiful and know that you had a hand in her creation. Serena looked at baby Alexis Olympia Ohanian Jr. and saw herself reflected in everything about her baby, including her body.
She was so moved, she wrote an open letter to her own mother expressing her pride in her daughter, her own body, and her mother’s ability to handle every ugly, sexist and racist criticism of Serena with grace.
“Dear Mom,” the tennis star wrote. “You are one of the strongest women I know. I was looking at my daughter (OMG, yes, I have a daughter ) and she has my arms and legs! My exact same strong, muscular, powerful, sensational arms and body. I don’t know how I would react if she has to go through what I’ve gone through since I was a 15 year old and even to this day.”
I’ve been called man because I appeared outwardly strong. It has been said that that I use drugs (No, I have always had far too much integrity to behave dishonestly in order to gain an advantage). It has been said I don’t belong in Women’s sports — that I belong in Men’s — because I look stronger than many other women do. (No, I just work hard and I was born with this badass body and proud of it).
We all know those criticisms of Williams’ outward appearance and athletic body are targeted at her because she is a black woman. She is a black woman dominating in a sport that had been traditionally viewed as a white-woman thing until she and her sister came along. It’s no different than black people being compared to animals and being said to have beastly strength in the days of yore.
“But mom, I’m not sure how you did not go off on every single reporter, person, announcer and quite frankly, hater, who was too ignorant to understand the power of a black woman,” Serena continued in her letter.
You have to love the subtle shade here. At the same time that she is praising her mother for not responding in kind to the people who dared make such ugly comments about her, she is also giving them a wordy middle finger because fuck that. #BlackGirlMagic
“I am proud we were able to show them what some women look like. We don’t all look the same. We are curvy, strong, muscular, tall, small, just to name a few, and all the same: we are women and proud!” she wrote.
“You are so classy, I only wish I could take your lead. I am trying, though, and God is not done with me yet. I have a LONG way to go, but thank you,” she continued.
Translation: in the immortal words of 2Pac, “I ain’t a killer, but don’t push me.”
She ended her letter with this:
Thank you for being the role model I needed to endure all the hardships that I now regard as a challenges—ones that I enjoy. I hope to teach my baby Alexis Olympia the same, and have the same fortitude you have had.
Promise me, Mom, that you will continue to help. I’m not sure if I am as meek and strong as you are yet. I hope to get there one day. I love you dearly.
Your youngest of five,
I think it’s safe to say that we will all hoobang on whomever we need to if we hear anyone utter a negative word about baby Alexis.
We got your back, too, Serena.
Maria Sharapova could never.