This has been Serena Williams’ year, and later this month, the greatest athlete of our time will attempt to capture the grand slam when she competes at the U.S. Open tennis tournament in Queens, N.Y. Williams also stuns on the cover of the Aug. 10-23 issue of New York magazine, and inside she discusses how her father had a huge impact on her life.
Williams said that her dad, Richard, instilled in her and her sisters the motto, “If you fail to plan, you plan to fail.” And as a child, she said, she was made to keep a journal that included her goals and how to accomplish them. One of her goals this year is to become the first player since Steffi Graf in 1988 to win all four major tennis titles in one calendar year.
Williams also spoke about how she deals with the everyday racism she faces as a black athlete—everything from her being called a man to her and sister Venus being referred to as the “Williams brothers”—but she’s learned not to let it get to her.
“I don’t think about it,” she says. “I don’t dwell in the past. If I do, I’ll be swallowed up by negativity. As Mandela once said, ‘I will be in a mental prison.’”
As Williams prepares for the U.S. Open, she only has one thing on her mind.
“I have to go into New York thinking, ‘Listen, I want to win the U.S. Open. I want to defend my title,’” Williams stated.
“Hopefully, people will be cheering me on to, like, push me over the edge, give me that extra strength I need to go for this historic moment,” she said.