Laurie and Debbie say:
We have blogged about the Williams sisters before. But when we read this quote from Serena in an article by sports writer Bruce Jenkins (San Francisco Chronicle), it was time to write about her again. Usually “I’ve never been happier with myself” is a diet ad cliche. Not this time.
The most ridiculous criticism I’ve seen about Serena concerns her weight. Venus is a separate entity in the Williams family. She’s that girl you remember in high school, so trim and composed, and when you showed up at a reunion 20 years later, appalled at the collection of sad-sack mediocrity, there was that one girl, now a grown woman, even more admirable than before.
Serena’s body type falls into pattern with the rest of the women (including half-sisters) in the Williams family. Her entire adult life has been a battle to stay in shape. I was among many who assumed, five or six years ago, that she wouldn’t be long for the tour’s top 20. Now that she has proven everyone wrong (at the end of her epic, nearly three-hour Wimbledon semifinal win against Elena Dementieva, she was charging the net on match point against her), people still can’t quite grasp the truth.
“She’s not fit,” Simon Barnes wrote in the Times of London. “A pie or two has been consumed along the way.” Fox Sports columnist Jason Whitlock, in a piece as vicious as it was preposterous, wrote that “she’d rather eat” than compete hard in lesser tournaments, that she’s been “grazing at her stall between matches,” and that “she needs a little less butt.”
Nice to have these (male) “experts” offering as fact their uninformed opinions on the body of someone whose physical feats they couldn’t match in a million years.
Well, guess what, everybody, this formidable woman is laying waste to the countryside. Since this time last year, Serena owns three tournament titles – the U.S. Open, the Australian Open and Wimbledon. Her next major singles title will tie her with Billie Jean King (12) on the all-time list. Forget whatever the tour rankings claim; Serena is No. 1, followed closely by Venus.
“If all I did was play tennis, I’d be burned out by now and out of the game,” Serena said during Wimbledon. “But it’s not to say I don’t work hard at tennis. I’m in better shape than people think I am. I always wanted to look like Venus growing up, that tall, thin body that looks so good in clothes. Sometimes I felt like I hated her because I wanted my body to look like that, and I knew it never would. I’m built different. I have a big butt and chest. I could go without eating for two years and I still wouldn’t be a size two. I finally realized that not everybody’s Mary-Kate (Olsen), and I’ve never been happier with myself.”
Millions of American women need to hear what Serena is saying, in part because it never gets said from a position of power. The concept that women, including sisters, have different basic body types and shapes, that those shapes can all be as healthy as each other, and that you can be a terrific athlete without looking like a supermodel should not be radical. It shouldn’t even be slightly unfamiliar. But it is. And Serena Williams isn’t just a tennis champion: she’s also a truth-teller.