“I’M HAPPY TO GO THROUGH THINGS SO OTHER WOMEN DON’T HAVE TO”

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Ser­ena Wil­liams on play­ing sis­ter Venus in the UAE, rais­ing daugh­ter Alexis and tack­ling sex­ism Wel­come to the UAE. What do you en­joy about play­ing out here?

I love the chance to in­spire women to play ten­nis in the UAE. I am sure there is tal­ent here and be­ing able to let them know they can play just as good and prob­a­bly bet­ter than me is a joy.

How does it feel when you’re play­ing against your sis­ter Venus? When has it been the most dif­fi­cult?

Gosh, there have been so many [dif­fi­cult matches] but I would say any Wim­ble­don fi­nal [is the most chal­leng­ing]. In tour­na­ments we al­ways play as com­peti­tors but in dif­fer­ent set­tings we do have a bit of fun. How­ever, with this be­ing so close to the Aus­tralian Open I know that we will both want to use our op­por­tu­nity at the Mubadala World Ten­nis Cham­pi­onship in Abu Dhabi [Venus beat Ser­ena for the first time in nearly four years] to be able to win this and truly get ready for the Open. You’re rightly out­spo­ken about sex­ism within the sport... Ev­ery sport and ca­reer path has its chal­lenges. Sex­ism has been some­thing re­ally prom­i­nent in sports, and I am happy to have to go through things that other women will not have to go through in the fu­ture. [But] ten­nis is one of the few sports that has agreed to pay equal prize money at the main events (Grand Slams). There are still many more doors to be opened and I am happy to be there right at the front of the line help­ing oth­ers open them.

You’re a mum now to a lit­tle girl. How has that changed you as a per­son, or even as a player?

As a per­son I can see that I am more open and I lis­ten more. I re­ally want to pro­tect every­one and make a dif­fer­ence more than ever be­fore. Ten­nis still has the same mean­ing. I just want to go out there and be the best, but now not just for me but for my daugh­ter as well. Can you see lit­tle Alexis Olympia hav­ing a ca­reer within ten­nis? I do not see my daugh­ter as a ten­nis player but I have learned to never say never! For me it is im­por­tant to have my daugh­ter choose her own ca­reer path. I would sup­port her and, of course, if she chose to play sports I would be su­per happy. I think show­ing her how sports can help boost con­fi­dence and teach dis­ci­pline, will nat­u­rally steer her to­wards sport even if she only wants to play it recre­ation­ally.

You’ve al­ready come so far in your ca­reer and bro­ken count­less records. How do you stay mo­ti­vated? What’s your next goal?

There is al­ways a goal. It is not about set­ting goals to beat it’s just for me about do­ing some­thing that I com­pletely love. And that is what keeps me mo­ti­vated. [The next step is] A fash­ion em­pire, of course. I love build­ing brands and cre­at­ing some­thing that peo­ple can truly en­joy from the qual­ity to the ser­vice.

Ser­ena Wil­liams’ fash­ion col­lec­tion can be found at ser­e­naw­illiams.com

“I DO NOT SEE MY DAUGH­TER AS A TEN­NIS PLAYER, BUT I’VE LEARNED TO NEVER SAY NEVER”

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