Williams sat down with rapper Common to discuss her journey to the top.
If she wasn’t already, Serena Williams is about to be your woman crush. The 22-time Grand Slam-winning tennis player is widely considered one of the best athletes of all time (and no we aren't missing the world “female” in that phrase), but her confidence might be what we’re most envious of.
Williams sat down with rapper Common to discuss her rise to the top in an ESPN special called The Undefeated in Depth: Serena Williams with Common, and she opened up about being a black woman at the top of a predominately white sport.
“I think in the beginning of this journey, I was definitely misunderstood. You never saw anything like me and Venus in my field of work, in tennis,” she shared. “We may have said some things that people just couldn’t relate it to. They just probably thought we were talking about something different or took it the wrong way and made a negative connotation out of it.”
“Growing up and playing these tournaments when I was younger, I didn’t really see a lot of people that were my color—that were black. So I think I just got used to it,” she said. “Then when you go to, like, to Russia or a lot of these countries, you just really kind of stick out. But I like to stick out. I don’t want to be everyone else. If everyone’s doing something, I’m probably going to try in a different way because I just like to be different.”
“I definitely was scrutinized because I was confident. I was black and I was confident. And I am black. I am confident. But I would say that I feel like I could be number one,” she said. “Why shouldn’t I say that? If I don’t think I’m going to be the best, why do I play? I believed that I was going to be number one.”
“We literally took the globe and shook it, me and Venus. Because we came from Compton. We came from nothing,” she told Common. “We came and we conquered. I shouldn’t have to apologize for saying and believing that I could be the best.”
You can say that again. Read her interview in ESPN The Magazine’s “Anything’s Possible” issue on newsstands Friday, and watch more in the video above.