Serena Williams discusses Black Lives Matter, body positivity and female empowerment

Serena Williams has spoken about how technology has been able to give black people a voice during the Black Lives Matter movement.

The tennis great is on the cover of British Vogue’s November issue in which she discusses the injustices faced by the African-American community in the United States following the death of George Floyd and the subsequent Black Lives Matter protests.

Williams believes the use of mobile phones and social media has given black people the opportunity to show the world what has been happening for years.

“Now, we as black people have a voice – and technology has been a huge part of that,” she said.

“We see things that have been hidden for years; the things that we as people have to go through. This has been happening for years. People just couldn’t pull out their phones and video it before. 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’.

“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.”

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The 39-year-old, who has 23 Grand Slam titles to her name, is the most successful female tennis player of the Open Era.

But the former world No 1 told British Vogue she feels she has been treated differently due to the colour of her skin as she spoke about the battle she has had on her journey to become one of the most decorated tennis players in the world.

She said: “I’ve never been a person that has been like, ‘I want to be a different colour’ 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.”

We see things that have been hidden for years, the things that we as people have to go through. This has been happening for years. People just couldn’t pull out their phones and video it before.

Serena Williams on Black Lives Matter

Williams, who has a net worth of around $200m, says she enjoys using her influence to help women. She has been promoting marginalised voices through her venture capital firm and her size-inclusive fashion label, Serena.

“In this society, women are not taught or expected to be that future leader or future CEO,” said Williams.

“The narrative has to change. And maybe it doesn’t get better in time for me, but someone in my position can show women and people of colour that we have a voice, because lord knows I use mine.

“I love sticking up for people and supporting women. Being the voice that millions of people don’t have.”

Williams is married to Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian and the couple welcomed their first daughter, Alexis Olympia, in September 2017 despite having to deal with serious health issues during pregnancy.

The American is a true inspiration having endured blood clots and hemorrhaging that kept her bed-ridden for six weeks, but she made a full recovery before making her comeback to the tennis tour.

She opened up on her body, saying three-year-old daughter Olympia has given her a renewed appreciation for her own look.

“How amazing that my body has been able to give me the career that I’ve had, and I’m really thankful for it. I only wish I had been thankful sooner,” she said. “It just all comes full circle when I look at my daughter.

“When I was growing up, what was celebrated was different,” Williams added. “Venus looked more like what is really acceptable: she has incredibly long legs, she’s really, really thin. 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.”

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Williams has relied on her tight group of friends, including Oprah, the Duchess of Sussex, and Beyonce, to help her through what has become a difficult 2020 with Black Lives Matter protests at the forefront of people’s minds during the coronavirus pandemic.

The American says they have helped her stay true to herself and maintain the push for change.

“I’ve never been like anybody else in my life, and I’m not going to start now,” she said. “And not only tennis, but the world, is a better place for it.”

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