What do you think of when I say the words, ‘powerful athlete’?
A gargantuan swimmer, stretching through the pool with his paddle-like limbs? The wiry muscles of a sprinter as he glides around a track? Or maybe a raw block of a man, gloved hands perched next to his chin as he throws a whacking punch?
The term ‘powerful athlete’ is a masculine one, one that invites the traditional narrative of men cracking world records and showing off unbelievable physical talent.
But what about the women?
This one goes out to the awe-inspiring Serena Williams, who has today broken records to win her 22nd Grand Slam title at Wimbledon.
Now here is an example of a powerful athlete.
Serena is ranked number one in the world for women’s singles tennis, with a career that spans almost 20 years. That’s two decades of tireless campaigning to be the best of the best, of gruelling daily training, of mental resilience, and of incredible discipline. Two decades of waking up and knowing you have to face down new and the young and the talented to win.
That’s a long time to be fighting, but it certainly was worth it. Serena’s 22nd Grand Slam win now puts her in the same league as German player Steffi Graff, and nudging the all-time world record held by Margaret Court for 24 Grand Slam wins.
Even her opponent at Wimbledon today, Angelique Kerber, marvelled at her game:
“I lost against a really strong Serena today. This makes it a little bit better, that I know that she won the match, not that I lost the match, because she played very well.”
Serena’s physical prowess is the stuff of legends.
Her powerful serve is her calling card, her forehand stroke considered the most powerful in the women’s game. Last year, she was named Sports Illustrated Magazine’s ‘Sportsperson Of The Year’. It goes without saying Serena is one the greats in the history of sport.
Always remember. Once you master the game, you can then #BreakTheRules @audemarspiguetexperience A photo posted by Serena Williams (@serenawilliams) on
She is the very definition of a powerful athlete.
It’s tempting to deep dive into Serena’s expansive resume of charity work, or to marvel at the fact she speaks several languages fluently. We could touch on her famous fashion sense, her appearance in Beyonce’s ‘Sorry’ video, or note her astonishing loyalty to her family, in particular her sister and sometimes opponent, Venus.
But for today, Serena is not in the public eye for what she wore or for dancing in a Beyonce film clip – today, we celebrate Serena as an absolute winner in her physical prime.
She is strong, unapologetic, and fiery. She is everything women are not meant to be: strong, broad, loud, almost violent in her competitiveness. She scares her opponents. She stares down the competition. She throws her racket and yep, she yells at the press. But my god, can the woman play tennis.
All too often we play up this Adonis-style figure of the ultimate sportsman. Whole articles are written just about a man’s ability on the playing field, or in the ring, or in the pool.
So today, we’re doing the same for Serena: you go, girl.
Thanks for giving us a strong female figure to aspire to. Thanks for making us proud to be fit and strong. Thanks for smashing the falsities of ‘the weaker sex’ out the window and showing us sisters how its done. Thank you for your resilience, your strength, and your power.
Here’s cheers to our ultimate goddess and powerful athlete, Serena Williams: 22-time Grand Slam champion.