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

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

Black Women, We Deserve More

When the NYT posted an article this week about the recent marriage of a Black woman VP of a multi-billion-dollar company and a Black man who took her on a first date at the parking lot of a Popeyes, the reaction on social media was swift and polarizing. The two met on Hinge and had their parking lot rendezvous after he’d canceled their first two dates. When the groom posted a photo from their wedding on social media, he bragged about how he never had “pressure” to take her on “any fancy dates or expensive restaurants.”

It’s worth reading on your own to get the full breadth of all the foolery that transpired. But the Twitter discourse it inspired on what could lead a successful Black woman to accept lower than bare minimum in pursuit of a relationship and marriage, made me think of the years of messaging that Black women receive about how our standards are too high and what we have to “bring to the table” in order to be "worthy" of what society has deemed is the ultimate showing of our worth: a marriage to a man.

That's right, the first pandemic I lived through was not Covid, but the pandemic of the Black male relationship expert. I was young – thirteen to be exact – when Steve Harvey published his best-selling book Act Like a Lady, Think Like a Man. Though he was still just a stand-up comedian, oversized suit hoarder, and man on his third marriage at the time, his relationship advice was taken as the gospel truth.

The 2000s were a particularly bleak time to be a single Black woman. Much of the messaging –created by men – that surrounded Black women at the time blamed their desire for a successful career and for a partner that matched their drive and ambition for the lack of romance in their life. Statistics about Black women’s marriageability were always wielded against Black women as evidence of our lack of desirability.

It’s no wonder then that a man that donned a box cut well into the 2000s was able to convince women across the nation to not have sex for the first three months of a relationship. Or that a slew of other Black men had their go at telling Black women that they’re not good enough and why their book, seminar, or show will be the thing that makes them worthy of a Good Man™.

This is how we end up marrying men who cancel twice before taking us on a “date” in the Popeyes parking lot, or husbands writing social media posts about how their Black wife is not “the most beautiful” or “the most intelligent” or the latest season of trauma dumping known as Black Love on OWN.

Now that I’ve reached my late twenties, many things about how Black women approach dating and relationships have changed and many things have remained the same. For many Black women, the idea of chronic singleness is not the threat that it used to be. Wanting romance doesn’t exist in a way that threatens to undermine the other relationships we have with our friends, family, and ourselves as it once did, or at least once was presented to us. There is a version of life many of us are embracing where a man not wanting us, is not the end of what could still be fruitful and vibrant life.

There are still Black women out there however who have yet to unlearn the toxic ideals that have been projected onto us about our worthiness in relation to our intimate lives. I see it all the time online. The absolute humiliation and disrespect some Black women are willing to stomach in the name of being partnered. The hoops that some Black women are willing to jump through just to receive whatever lies beneath the bare minimum.

It's worth remembering that there are different forces at play that gather to make Black women feast off the scraps we are given. A world saturated by colorism, fatphobia, anti-Blackness, ableism, and classism will always punish Black women who demand more for themselves. Dismantling these systems also means divesting from any and everything that makes us question our worth.

Because truth be told, Black women are more than worthy of having a love that is built on mutual respect and admiration. A love that is honey sweet and radiates a light that rivals the sun. A love that is a steadying calming force that doesn’t bring confusion or anxiety. Black women deserve a love that is worthy of the prize that we are.

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Featured image: Getty Images

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