Serena Williams says she had to show people that “it’s okay to be Black and to play tennis”

“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,” she said. “It’s just something I had to grow used to, which shouldn’t be normal,” she continued.  

She also pointed out that the dislike wasn’t limited to her, but also to her older sister Venus. “I remember when my sister was playing, I could tell when she would win points and when she would lose,” Serena 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.” 

Through time, Serena said she had to let her game speak to the haters. “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.” She concluded that: “Eventually… 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.” 

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