Tennis legend Serena Williams welcomed her first child, Alexis Olympia Ohanian Jr. on Sept. 1. And no surprise, she is one sweet baby.
I mean, seriously? Too cute.
While Williams has been adjusting to her new role, she took a moment to write a letter to her own mother expressing her gratitude and admiration.
Originally posted to Reddit, Serena’s letter kicks off with amazement at how her mom managed to keep such a cool head when she saw her daughters criticized and judged harshly in the media for their strong, capable, powerful bodies and commanding performances on the court. Over the years, some have even suggested Williams play with men and accused her of using performance-enhancing drugs.
Such jealousy, misogyny, and thinly veiled racism in response to a job well done would be enough to break anyone’s spirit — but imagine if it happened to you. Or worse, your child.
“I don’t know how I would react if [Alexis] has to go through what I’ve gone through since I was a 15 year old and even to this day,” Williams wrote. “But mom, I’m not sure how you did not go off on every single reporter, person, announcer and quite frankly, hater, who was too ignorant to understand the power of a black woman.”
Because women, (athletes or otherwise) should never be limited or defined by narrow standards of beauty.
Six-pack or soft rolls, fat or slim, with or without physical limitations, there is no “wrong way” for women, black women in particular, to look or feel strong. We are strong simply by virtue of existing in a world that would rather we not.
“I am proud we were able to show them what some women look like,” Williams wrote. “We don’t all look the same. We are curvy, strong, muscular, tall, small, just to name a few, and all the same: we are women and proud!”
But as confident and capable as Williams is, she’s not too strong to ask for help.
Motherhood is already a tough job, and raising a child in the public eye won’t make it any easier. She may be a superhero on the court, but even the strongest among us know it’s OK to get support from the people we love.
“Promise me, Mom, that you will continue to help. I’m not sure if I am as meek and strong as you are yet. I hope to get there one day,” she wrote.
Whoever you lean on, whoever you trust and value — it’s never a bad time to let them know and say thanks.
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