Serena Williams posing for the Harper’s Bazaar shoot
Serena Williams via Instagram

When Serena Williams was knocked out of this year’s U.S. Open, she immediately walked off the court, and you could see the disappointment on her face. But that loss definitely didn’t take away from the fact that she’s one of the greatest athletes, if not the greatest, in the world. In November’s issue of Harper’s Bazaar, Williams’ courage and athleticism are applauded in the appropriately titled “Daring Issue.”

Williams, who has been playing tennis since she was 3 years old, said that one of her goals in her career has been to become more calm. Some people may have been turned off by her outspokenness early in her career, but an older Williams is a more Zen-like Williams. However, there was stress to conquer first.

“I think it [stress] started last year when I won the U.S. Open,” Williams said. “I was so stressed to get to number 18 the whole year before.”

Williams said she knew it was time to be more relaxed on the court when her body and age told her so.

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“I’ve made it a point to be calmer,” Williams said. “You know me, I’m really intense and really crazy, but in my career, I want to be more calm.” And when Williams’ body talks, she listens. Referring to her life-threatening pulmonary embolism in 2011, she says, “When I went through all of that stuff with my lungs, that’s when I decided to be more calm on the court.”

So Williams has gone from being intense to calm, and she’s also willing to share the title of “daring.” When asked which women she thought were daring, she named her sister Venus as well as Ronda Rousey.

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And even at the age of 34, when most tennis stars are considered geriatric, Williams says she feels stronger than ever. And she says she knows tennis was her calling: “I feel stronger now. Some people are born to do certain things, and I think I was born to do tennis. I definitely didn’t miss my calling!”