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Serena Williams

From women to Serena Williams — ‘You’re phenomenal’

Women discuss how the queen of the court has impacted their lives

In July, after capturing her seventh Wimbledon singles title and matching Steffi Graf’s record of major titles, Serena Williams raised a fist with enthusiasm. It’s not known if it was a Black Power fist, as Tommie Smith and John Carlos raised in the 1968 Summer Games. But it was surely enough for women all over the world to feel the love.

The truth is that she has a huge fan base not simply because she one of the best athletes ever, but because she’s pure #BlackGirlMagic. She might lose, but she’s not down. She continues to rise and beat whatever odds she faces. And she does it with an amazing amount of class through ridicule, prejudice, tragedy, illness and controversy.

Williams exudes a sense of pride so big that she wraps us all up in it too. She’s unapologetic about her toned physique at a time where body image has been sensationalized to Jessica Rabbit proportions. She’s a role model for little black girls who want to achieve in sports, fashion or just generally conquer the world. She also appeals to grown women who wish they could have a one-on-one “you go girl” moment or just generally conquer the world.

The Guardian wrote that “Williams has been a vocal supporter of Black Lives Matter, and an articulate feminist who has supported the Women’s Tennis Association’s campaign for equal pay.”

In an interview with Good Morning America in 2015, she said: “I’ve been like this my whole life, and I embrace me and I love how I look. I love that I am a full woman, and I’m strong and I’m powerful and I’m beautiful at the same time. And there’s nothing wrong with that.”

Never mind all the vicious hate spewed by others in the social media world. Ask most women how they feel about Williams, and here comes the praise. Comments from just a few women about Williams:

“Serena slays. She changed the game. She’s inspired me, my three daughters and even my mother. Three generations of us are constantly rooting for her to win.” – Kimberly Jacobsen

“When I first saw her, it was during the U.S. Open of 1999. I was amazed at her athleticism and the way she ‘owned’ the court. From that moment she was deemed ‘the epitome of excellence’ in my eyes. She embodies a multitude of qualities that all black women athletes possess: the ability to be brave, face and overcome fears and obstacles, excellent athletic ability and can still be a woman. She is truly invincible!” – Angela Edwards

“When I think of Serena Williams, I think of strength, talent, and beauty. She is the ultimate package.” – Shamika Armstrong

“From the very first time I saw a picture of her, all that came to my mind was, look, God. She’s the epitome of a strong, talented black queen. Throughout her career, as I followed her gains and her wins and the ridicule from nasty people, all I can say is, and still she rises! Just phenomenal and one to model. When you’re passionate about something, see it through and do your best. Focus on your strong suits and build on your weaknesses, but embrace all of you regardless of the naysayers. There are a lot of women who struggle with their body image, with the color of their skin and even those who don’t expound upon their inner talents. For me, her message exudes an attitude of – play the game, but don’t let it represent who you are without you having your own voice. She truly represents what it means to be a legendary black queen!” – Dejah Joseph

Kelley Evans is a general editor at The Undefeated. She is a food passionista, helicopter mom and an unapologetic southerner who spends every night with the cast of The Young and the Restless by way of her couch.