Serena Williams Says She Wants to Be 'the Voice' for Women and People of Color

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Serena Williams
Zoë Ghertner

Serena Williams wants to use her celebrity for good. The 39-year-old tennis pro covers the November issue of British Vogue, and opens up about how she hopes to inspire women and people of color amid the Black Lives Matter movement.

"Tennis is a small play in the whole scheme of things. In this society, women are not taught or expected to be that future leader or future CEO. The narrative has to change," she says. "And maybe it doesn’t get better in time for me, but someone in my position can show women and people of color that we have a voice, because Lord knows I use mine."

"I love sticking up for people and supporting women," Williams adds. "Being the voice that millions of people don’t have."

Since Williams has spoken out unapologetically throughout her career, she's become someone who people turn to during this time of strife.

"At the end of May, I had so many people who were white writing to me saying, 'I’m sorry for everything you’ve had to go through,'" she shares. "I think for a minute they started -- not to understand, because I don’t think you can understand -- but they started to see. I was like, 'Well, you didn’t see any of this before? I’ve been talking about this my whole career. It’s been one thing after another.'"

Serena Williams
Zoë Ghertner

One thing Williams has long struggled with is body positivity, something that dates back to when she was growing up with her older sister, Venus Williams.

"When I was growing up, what was celebrated was different. Venus looked more like what is really acceptable: she has incredibly long legs, she’s really, really thin," Williams explains. "I didn’t see people on TV that looked like me, who were thick. There wasn’t positive body image. It was a different age."

Now, though, Williams has more than accepted her body; in fact, she's thankful for it.

"How amazing that my body has been able to give me the career that I’ve had, and I’m really thankful for it," she says. "I only wish I had been thankful sooner." 

"It just all comes full circle when I look at my daughter," Williams adds of her 3-year-old daughter, Olympia, whom she shares with her husband, Alexis Ohanian.

It's not just her body she accepts, but herself as a whole -- skin deep and beyond.

"I’ve never been a person that has been like, 'I want to be a different color' or 'I want my skin tone to be lighter.' I like who I am, I like how I look, and I love representing the beautiful dark women out there. For me, it’s perfect. I wouldn’t want it any other way," she says. "I’ve never been like anybody else in my life, and I’m not going to start now."

 

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