Fierce Female of the Week: Serena Williams

This week, we’re going for something a little different! Jennifer Redenbach is a great friend of Library of my Life, currently studying Sports Broadcasting in Toronto after earning her undergraduate degree in English Literature. She is a passionate feminist and a fierce female herself, and we couldn’t think of a better way to celebrate her upcoming birthday than to feature her writing on our blog! We love supporting and showcasing the brilliant and talented women that we know, and we’re so excited that Jen has agreed to write this week’s Fierce Female post all about sports superstar Serena Williams!

Serena Williams is past simply achieving greatness; she has conquered the game of tennis in more ways than the average viewer can comprehend.

This past Saturday, July 14th, viewers around the world gathered around their TVs to watch Serena as she took centre court at Wimbledon to compete against German tennis star Angelique Kerber in the final match. What the viewers didn’t see was how, less than a year ago, Serena cheated death. With the birth of her daughter Alexis Olympia Ohanian Jr. came complications.

Vonny Leclerc reports for The National that Serena underwent “an emergency Caesarean section that later ruptured due to coughing caused by postpartum pulmonary embolism – a blocked blood vessel in her lung. A haematoma was found in her abdomen and she faced further surgery.” Serena’s husband Alexis Ohanian notes in a tweet that it was a task for her to walk to the mailbox after childbirth so it’s miraculous that less than a year later she is playing tennis on one of the greatest tennis stages in the world.For any athlete to stand on centre stage at the Wimbledon finals is a victory in itself. Despite the scoreboard proclaiming that she lost to Angelique Kerber in two straight sets, Serena was again victorious.

Before giving birth, Serena was ranked the number one female tennis player in the world. In her 14 month hiatus from the game, her ranking dropped drastically. Serena has competed in only four tournaments since giving birth, and in this short amount of time she rose 153 places and is now ranked 28th in the world. She has not only won 23 grand slam titles; she won 23 grand slam titles in the face of discrimination. She won 23 grand slam titles in the face of sexism. The only question that remained for Serena was what glass ceiling will she break next? She answered this question in her post-game interview after the Wimbledon final.

Shannon Ryan of the Chicago Tribune writes of the event that the interviewee alluded to the fact that Serena was a, “superhuman, Supermom.” “No, I’m just me,” Serena responded, “That’s all I can be. But for all the moms out there, I was playing for you today. I tried. … I look forward to continuing to be out here and doing what I do best.” Shannon Ryan notes, “this Wimbledon might be one of the first times I’ve heard an athlete mentioned as a mother without it defining her or being used as a stereotype against her.” “I was really happy to get this far,” Serena said. “It’s obviously disappointing, but I can’t be disappointed. I’m literally just getting started.”

She remains one of greatest tennis athletes – male or female – of all time. She has been able to break stereotypes with the perfect unison of strength and grace. Serena is past achieving greatness – she defines it.

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Jennifer is a Sports Journalism post-graduate student based in Toronto, Canada. You’ll either find her at Starbucks doing work, or on the sidelines of an Argos game doing work, or at the shooting guard position of a basketball court doing work. She is a first time Library of my Life contributor and a long time Serena Williams follower.