Love Your Body

Serena Williams explains why she's proud of her body in powerful message to mom

Tennis star Serena Williams took to Reddit Tuesday to serve up a moving message for her mother after the recent birth of her own daughter led to an epiphany.

Williams, 35, posted a picture of her 2-week-old daughter, Alexis Olympia Ohanian Jr. — named after the baby's father, Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian — and wrote a note thanking her mom, Oracene Price, for setting a classy example for her to follow. That includes all those times when Serena was criticized for her body.

"Dear Mom," Williams wrote. "You are one of the strongest women I know. 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. 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.

"I've been called man because I appeared outwardly strong. It has been said that I use drugs (No, I have always had far too much integrity to behave dishonestly in order to gain an advantage). 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)."

D Dipasupil / FilmMagic
Serena Williams and sister Venus with their mother, Oracene Price, at the 2015 Sports Illustrated Sportsperson of the Year Ceremony in New York.

Williams' body has been the subject of much commentary during her career, ranging from online trolls to a controversial 2015 New York Times article to what she described as the "racist comments" a fellow tennis star reportedly made about her earlier this year.

Through it all, Serena and sister Venus' mother has provided a reassuring presence.

"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," Williams wrote to her mother in her Reddit post. "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!

Meet the 2017 TODAY Style Heroes — including Serena Williams!

"You are so classy, I only wish I could take your lead. I am trying, though, and God is not done with me yet. I have a LONG way to go, but thank you."

Williams wrote to her mother than she will continue to lean on her for support and strength as she raises her daughter.

"Thank you for being the role model I needed to endure all the hardships that I now regard as challenges — ones that I enjoy. I hope to teach my baby Alexis Olympia the same, and have the same fortitude you have had," Williams wrote.

"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. I love you dearly."

TOP