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5 Boss Moves We Can Learn From Serena Williams, The Decade's Top Athlete

We may not be able to slay on a court or red carpet, but we can take a few tips from her playbook.

Culture & Entertainment

The banging' chiseled body. The super-awesome record-breaking sports prowess. The IRL mommy and marriage goals. Tennis star Serena Williams was recently named Female Athlete of the Decade by the Associated Press, and there's no question why. She definitely has the receipts. She's won more than 20 Grand Slam singles titles---breaking records along the way---won Olympic gold by herself and with her sister, Venus, and holds the crown as the oldest female Grand Slam singles winner of all time.

Not all of us can slay on a tennis court or red carpet, but we can take a play from her book when it comes to boss moves. Check out 5 that will inspire you to step your game up---in whatever way you need to---in this new year:

1.She Tunes Out Negativity By Staying Booked And Busy

Nothing beats naysayers and hate like success. And Serena "doesn't have time" for negativity. In a recent interview with Elle, she said:

"When you enable negativity in your life, it's bound to take over. I don't have time for that mindset. I have championships to win, a beautiful daughter to raise, an amazing husband to love, a fashion line to design, philanthropic work to do, boards to advise on, and family and friends to spend time with."

We hear you, sis.

2.She Stacks Her Coins And Diversifies Her Investments

She has her own body-positive clothing line---named after herself, of course---and lucrative endorsements. And she recently teamed up with Jay-Z to invest in Indonesian coffee chain Kopi Kenengan through her own company, Serena Ventures, according to reports. The total funding from all investors for the venture tops $20 million. Her company has also invested in black- and female-owned businesses including Mayvenn, a hair extension company, and Billie, a women's shaving brand. She's invested in more than 30 startups since 2014, according to Forbes, and the portfolio is worth more than $10 million.

3.She Pushes Through, Allowing Almost Nothing To Stop Her Grind

Talk about a snapback and comeback queen. After a 2010 foot injury, she returned to the court in 2012 to win her fifth All England Club title, two gold medals in the London Olympics, and the U.S. Open. And not only was she pregnant during the 2017 Australian Open--and won--just months after giving birth to her daughter, Alexis, she was back on the court for a Grand Slam match. This year, she advanced to the quarterfinals of the U.S. Open despite injuring her ankle.

4.She Gives Back to Her Community--Locally and Globally

In 2011, Serena served as a UNiCEF International Goodwill Ambassador, advocating for children through the Schools for Africa programme and the Schools for Asia initiatives. In 2016, she and her sister, Venus, returned to their Compton, California hometown to launch the Yetunde Price Resource Center in honor of their sister who was killed in a 2003 shooting. She and Venus are also the founders of the Wiliams Sister Fund where they collaborate on philanthropic projects to help the underserved and victims of violence. Earlier this year, she recently put up her daughter's clothes for sale on Poshmark via her Posh Closet for Charity, with proceeds going toward the fund.

5.She Stands Up Against Sexism and Gender Inequality

She's always been unapologetically confident and vocal about her views on equal treatment for women on and off the court. She faced backlash---and hefty fines totaling $17,000---after referring to an umpire as a "thief" during the U.S. Open final in 2018 after he hit her with a point penalty for smashing her racket. "He's never taken a game from a man because they said 'thief.' For me it blows my mind. But I'm going to continue to fight for women," Williams said during a news conference. Tennis legend Billie Jean King co-signed her sentiments as well as many fans on social media.

She also went on record last March supporting women who filed a gender-discrimination lawsuit against the U.S. Soccer Federation. "People call me one of the "world's greatest female athletes," she wrote in an open letter on gender equality. "Do they say LeBron is one of the world's best male athletes? Is Tiger? Federer? Why not? They are certainly not female. We should never let this go unchallenged. We should always be judged by our achievements, not by our gender."

Amen. Amen.

Featured Image by Giphy

Jamie Foxx and his daughter Corinne Foxx are one of Hollywood’s best father-daughter duos. They’ve teamed up together on several projects including Foxx’s game show Beat Shazam where they both serve as executive producers and often frequent red carpets together. Corinne even followed in her father’s footsteps by taking his professional last name and venturing into acting starring in 47 Meters Down: Uncaged and Live in Front of a Studio Audience: All in the Family and Good Times as Thelma.

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When I was ten, my Sunday school teacher put on a brief performance in class that included some of the boys standing in front of the classroom while she stood in front of them holding a heart shaped box of chocolate. One by one, she tells each boy to come and bite a piece of candy and then place the remainder back into the box. After the last boy, she gave the box of now mangled chocolate over to the other Sunday school teacher — who happened to be her real husband — who made a comically puzzled face. She told us that the lesson to be gleaned from this was that if you give your heart away to too many people, once you find “the one,” that your heart would be too damaged. The lesson wasn’t explicitly about sex but the implication was clearly present.

That memory came back to me after a flier went viral last week, advertising an abstinence event titled The Close Your Legs Tour with the specific target demo of teen girls came across my Twitter timeline. The event was met with derision online. Writer, artist, and professor Ashon Crawley said: “We have to refuse shame. it is not yours to hold. legs open or not.” Writer and theologian Candice Marie Benbow said on her Twitter: “Any event where 12-17-year-old girls are being told to ‘keep their legs closed’ is a space where purity culture is being reinforced.”

“Purity culture,” as Benbow referenced, is a culture that teaches primarily girls and women that their value is to be found in their ability to stay chaste and “pure”–as in, non-sexual–for both God and their future husbands.

I grew up in an explicitly evangelical house and church, where I was taught virginity was the best gift a girl can hold on to until she got married. I fortunately never wore a purity ring or had a ceremony where I promised my father I wouldn’t have pre-marital sex. I certainly never even thought of having my hymen examined and the certificate handed over to my father on my wedding day as “proof” that I kept my promise. But the culture was always present. A few years after that chocolate-flavored indoctrination, I was introduced to the fabled car anecdote. “Boys don’t like girls who have been test-driven,” as it goes.

And I believed it for a long time. That to be loved and to be desired by men, it was only right for me to deny myself my own basic human desires, in the hopes of one day meeting a man that would fill all of my fantasies — romantically and sexually. Even if it meant denying my queerness, or even if it meant ignoring how being the only Black and fat girl in a predominantly white Christian space often had me watch all the white girls have their first boyfriends while I didn’t. Something they don’t tell you about purity culture – and that it took me years to learn and unlearn myself – is that there are bodies that are deemed inherently sinful and vulgar. That purity is about the desire to see girls and women shrink themselves, make themselves meek for men.

Purity culture isn’t unlike rape culture which tells young girls in so many ways that their worth can only be found through their bodies. Whether it be through promiscuity or chastity, young girls are instructed on what to do with their bodies before they’ve had time to figure themselves out, separate from a patriarchal lens. That their needs are secondary to that of the men and boys in their lives.

It took me a while —after leaving the church and unlearning the toxic ideals around purity culture rooted in anti-Blackness, fatphobia, heteropatriarchy, and queerphobia — to embrace my body, my sexuality, and my queerness as something that was not only not sinful or dirty, but actually in line with the vision God has over my life. Our bodies don't stop being our temples depending on who we do or who we don’t let in, and our worth isn’t dependent on the width of our legs at any given point.

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