the icon Serena Williams, equal of Beyonce or Michelle Obama



Published on

August 29, 2022

There is the immense tennis champion Serena Williams and the star, seated at the same table as Beyonce, Oprah Winfrey or Michelle Obama, whose aura and influence are sources of inspiration for black women in the United States. .


Her prodigious career (23 Grand Slam titles in 27 seasons), which she could put an end to 40 years after the US Open – which she will start on Tuesday – will have opened countless doors, pushing back in many areas the field of possibilities.

She shares her formidable destiny with her older sister Venus, pushed by a father, Richard, who saw in them “the next two Michael Jordans of women’s tennis”. It’s that of a child growing up in 1980s Compton, then a LA gang den, where the bullets whizzing by weren’t exactly round and yellow.

What arouse vocations: “I grew up watching her play. She is the reason why I play tennis”, recently confided Coco Gauff, 18-year-old African-American, finalist of the last Roland-Garros.

Serena has shown, like Arthur Ashe before her in men’s tennis or Tiger Woods in golf, that it is possible for blacks to find a place in these microcosms of whites, despite the many obstacles, to better dominate and even revolutionize the discipline.

Showbiz, fashion and pop-culture

“As a black tennis player, I looked different. I spoke differently. I dressed differently. I served differently. Williams a few years ago.

And Serena did not hesitate to decline her success in other areas.

She became an accomplished businesswoman (her fortune is estimated at $260 million per Forbes), making showbiz, fashion and pop-culture other playgrounds that have made it a little more “star” and are all platforms for expression that could change the game.

She stood out in Beyonce’s 2016 single “Sorry”; hip hop and R’n’B stars from Kanye West to Drake to Snoop Dogg have mentioned her in songs; she made an appearance in the popular series Law & Orderbut also, even more cult, at The simpsons with Venus; Jimmy Fallon has invited her several times to his Tonight Show on NBC, and HBO devoted a series to him Being Serena.

Last year, the publisher DC Comics made her one of its superheroines, “Wonderous Serena”, in a comic strip called Serving Up Justice, reserved for digital format. Justice she serves with Wonder Woman.

Breaker of barriers

As for rubbing shoulders with the “greats” of this world, she is not left out, as close to the Obama couple as to Meghan Markle, who invited her to her princely wedding with Harry, when she is not crowding the red carpets, including the Oscars this year. Because Hollywood and Will Smith, recipient of a statuette, obviously did not fail to tell in Richard’s methodthe story of the Williams sisters and their father.

Serena also does magazine covers, like Vanity Fairwith a photo of her almost naked, seven months pregnant, taken by Annie Leibovitz, or even vogueto whom she announced this summer that the countdown to her retirement had begun.

She also made her own the world of fashion, participating in parades at Fashion Week, to the point of having been the “muse” of designer Virgil Abloh.

Fashion that she has never hesitated to bring to the courts, with her historic equipment supplier Nike, a fan of tight-fitting jumpsuits and other original outfits, even if it means breaking the rules and collecting criticism, when she was not the object sexist and racist attacks.

A fierce fighter on the courts, Serena Williams will not have forgotten to be one outside, taking advantage of her notoriety to support “Black Lives Matter” and “MeToo” or denounce wage inequalities between men and women.

Which earned her a heartfelt tribute from Michelle Obama: “Serena, thank you for all you’ve done to break down barriers and be a positive light in this world. We’ve watched you wear the crown of greatness with gender humility, grace and integrity to which we can all aspire”.


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