To celebrate Black History Month, The Sports Museum will be sharing an essay each week from our annual Will McDonough Writing Contest.
Serena Williams: Most Influential Athlete
By Isabella M.
Methuen High School in Metheun, MA
11th Grade Entry, ‘20 Will McDonough Writing Contest
Serena Williams, an American professional tennis player, has changed our culture, community, athletics, and the way we view them in many ways.
Serena was born on September 26, 1981 in Compton. California. She had four other siblings. Williams and her older sister Venus practiced for hours a day growing up, starting when she was three. At only ten years old, Williams was on the junior United States Tennis Association tour. She won first place in the ten and under division. At a young age Serena was successful, and that only increased as she got older. She went professional at the age of 14, which her parents didn’t like. Williams entered the US Open when she was 17 years old. At the 2000 Olympics in Australia, Serena and her sister Venus won gold medals in the doubles event.
Serena has influenced athletics all over the world. She has won 23 major singles titles, more than any other woman or man during the open era. She was formerly named world number 1 from The Women’s Tennis Association. I think that she is very inspirational to other inspiring athletes that are women. It gives them the power and belief in themselves to strive to be their best. Though tennis is not nearly as popular as football, or basketball, Serena has made a name for herself through her intensity and determination, and is as well known as LeBron James and Michael Jordan. Williams is competitive, humble and calm, even after losing a match. She is a role model to all athletes. Even when playing against her own sister, who is just as competitive as she is, no matter what happens on the court they’re sisters.
Not only has Williams influenced the world of athletics, she has also influenced the community, specifically women and mothers. She shared her story on the experiences and hardships of childbirth. Serena endured a very dangerous birth and afterwards struggled with postpartum depression. She had an emergency cesarean surgery and two other surgeries to follow. She developed blood clots in her lungs, and had a second surgery. Then, she urged doctors to administer a CT scan to double check, they found ones they missed. She went into a third surgery. Had she not been so persistent, they wouldn’t have given her that scan and found those clots that could’ve killed her. Serena encourages others to speak up for themselves. Not only did Serena have difficulties in childbirth, she also suffered with a very common condition called postpartum depression. Williams was seen breastfeeding and pumping in between training sessions and feared she wouldn’t be able to provide for her baby. She felt like she wasn’t a good mother and couldn’t give her baby what she needed. Williams said she found herself in a funk, juggling raising Olympia, her daughter, and balancing her career. Sharing this with her nine million followers on Instagram reminded others that she is just like all other mothers. Being an athlete doesn’t make her a perfect human being. She has struggles and makes mistakes just like we do. Most, if not all mothers relate to this and it makes them feel like they aren’t going through it alone. Even the biggest athletes go through hardships. Serena shares her birth and postpartum depression story with the world in order to send that message out.
Williams and her sister have additionally inspired more diversity within sports and the community. African-American children, from poor areas growing up with a poor home life have been inspired to begin playing tennis. She has devoted time and money to the development of a tennis center in Washington, DC. In the 1950s, tennis consisted of mostly white people. Now, there is much more diversity within sports. Serena has inspired kids of color to take part in youth programs and begin playing tennis.
Williams has been extremely successful since the first time she picked up a tennis racket. Not only is she an athlete, but she is a mother, a wife, a friend, and a role model to everyone. She continuously inspires everyone around the world, whether it’s in sports, the community, or the culture. She is a role model to kids and adults, and has inspired many people to start playing tennis.
Garcia, Patricia. “Serena Williams Continues to Break New-Mom Stereotypes on Instagram.”
Vogue, Vogue, 7 Aug. 2018, www.vogue.com/article/serena-williams-motherhood-postpartum-disorders-instagram. Roenigk, Alyssa. “Why 2018 Could Be Serena Williams' Most Impactful Year Yet.” ESPN,
ESPN Internet Ventures, 15 Oct. 2018, www.espn.com/tennis/story/_/id/24989801/tennis-why-2018-serena-williams-most-impactful-ye ar-yet.
Segura, Loretta. “Serena Williams' Massive Influence.” The Odyssey Online, The Odyssey
Online, 17 Oct. 2019, www.theodysseyonline.com/serena-williams-massive-influence.
“Venus and Serena Williams Help Inspire Diversity in Tennis.” USA Today, Gannett Satellite Information Network, 2 Sept. 2018,
Walker, Julie. “Venus and Serena Williams Help Inspire Diversity in Tennis.” USA Today,
Gannett Satellite Information Network, 2 Sept. 2018 www.usatoday.com/story/sports/tennis/2018/09/02/venus-and-serena-williams-help-inspire-diver sity-in-tennis/37696635/.