Global Citizen is a community of people like you

People who want to learn about and take action on the world’s biggest challenges. Extreme poverty ends with you.

Girls & Women

Serena Williams Pens Heartfelt Letter to Her Mom About Motherhood and Her ‘Badass Body’

Beth Wilson/Flickr

Legendary tennis player and new mom Serena Williams wrote a powerful letter to her mom, thanking her for being her role model and celebrating her own “badass body."

“I've been called man because I appeared outwardly strong. It has been said that that I use drugs. (No, I have always had far too much integrity to behave dishonestly in order to gain an advantage),” Williams tells her mother, tennis coach Oracene Price, in the heartfelt letter.

Embed from Getty Images

“It has been said I don't belong in women's sports — that I belong in men's — because I look stronger than many other women do. (No, I just work hard and I was born with this badass body and proud of it),” she continued.

And though her daughter, Alexis Olympia Ohanian, is only a few weeks old, Williams is already nervous her child will face the same gender-biased criticism and scrutiny that she has.

“I was looking at my daughter (OMG, yes, I have a daughter 😳) and she has my arms and legs! My exact same strong, muscular, powerful, sensational arms and body,” she marvels in the letter, which she posted to Reddit on Tuesday

Biceps 💪🏾

A post shared by Alexis Olympia Ohanian, Jr. (@olympiaohanian) on

“I don't know how I would react if she has to go through what I've gone through since I was a 15-year-old and even to this day … 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.”

Over the years, Williams has been candid about her struggle with body image, sexism, and racism as an athlete and public figure.

Read more: Serena Williams Is Leading the Charge for Equal Pay for Black Women

"When I was younger, it was hard seeing all these thin athletes when I had more muscular curves and was big-busted," she told Time when she made their “100 Most Influential People” list in 2016.

“There was a time where I didn’t feel incredibly comfortable about my body, because I felt like I was too strong. And then I had to take a second and think, who says I’m too strong?” Williams said on ESPN. “This body has enabled me to be the greatest player I can be and I’m not going to scrutinize that. This is great. I mean, this is amazing.”

“I want women to know that it’s okay. You can be whatever size you are, and you can be beautiful both inside and out,” the tennis star told People Magazine in 2009. “We’re always told what’s beautiful and what’s not, and that’s not right.”

In her moving letter to her mother, Williams says she is proud to be a body-positive example to other women and thanks her mother for being a role model and teaching her to persist through challenges.

“I am proud we were able to show them what some women look like. 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!”

via GIPHY

Williams is also an advocate for education and women’s rights — a champion both on and off the court.

Global Citizen campaigns for a gender equitable world where women receive equal pay for equal work and girls have equal access to quality education. You can take action here.