Serena Williams is undoubtedly one of THE greatest ever in the world of tennis but way back, she had it difficult and had to deal with her own share of prejudice and discrimination. Thankfully with strong spirit and ever present support, she was able to emerge victorious.
On a recent episode of Sirius XM’s show Shade 45, Williams reflected on how racial prejudice was a constant in her career while starting out.
The sport champ opening up on working in a “hostile work environment,” while playing the game, said “It’s just something I had to grow used to, which shouldn’t be normal.”
Serena and sister Venus kicked off their career at a young age, but that didn’t deter mean-spirited crowds:
“It’s just something I had to grow used to, which shouldn’t be normal.”
She added that once she went pro, she was used to playing in front of a rude audience.
“It had to be normal for me to realize people weren’t gonna root for me in the beginning, because I was different and I looked different.”
Williams explaining said when she wasn’t playing, she would notice the same held true for Venus who often got a different reaction than their white counterparts while on the court.
“I remember when my sister was playing, I could tell when she would win points and when she would lose,” she said. “The crowd would be really loud if she lost a point, and then there would be almost silence if she won the game or the point.”
“The same applied to me,” she continued. “I had to make people realize that it’s okay to be Black and to play tennis. And it’s okay to be good at it and to be better.” Eventually, she says, she realized the hate “wasn’t anything to do with me. It was just that I had to force people to see me because of my game. And let my game do the speaking. And I had to be comfortable with that.”
Ever grateful for family support which she says helped them deal with the negativity, Williams said:
“Thankfully, my parents were so awesome and so pro-Black,” Williams said. “They really taught us from a young age that we’re gonna face different things that other people aren’t gonna face. And we were okay with that because we knew that we were prepared for that. We were prepared for anything that came our way. And we continue to be prepared for that.”