There’s no doubt that Serena Williams is the athlete of the decade, without the unnecessary application of “female.”
The ruthlessness of the elite sport that she has steadily dominated, stems from the overt bigotry that extends past the tennis courts and into the press rooms, where combative White male reporters rudely push those buttons to unleash the “angry Black woman.”
But Serena and her equally formidable big sister Venus, have both matured into graceful sportswomen, who owe their enviable success to a committed and protective father and coach, Richard Williams, who taught his Black daughters to maintain the pride and viability of their Blackness in the face of lethal Whiteness.
Serena Williams has endured the hateful wrath of authoritative figures, who dare to publicly shame her physique based on her choice of outfits while competing at prominent venues. There was no consideration for the fact that her near-death experience after giving birth to her daughter, and the long-awaited return to the career that she’s worked hard to sustain was an uncanny feat that many can barely fathom.
But Black women who are built to last tend to inspire the ire of White supremacy, and while the racist chants that greeted Serena, Venus and their father, as they entered the prized locations of victory may appear to have been reduced, those long-held sentiments won’t ever vanish.
No competing woman athlete worth mentioning can ever rival the global harassment that Serena Williams has been forced to weather. And she does it with the astute professionalism that allows her to rise to the occasion during every single match that highlights her trajectory.
And when she loses, she really wins.
Serena is the most accomplished and revered athlete in the world because of how she bears the heavy burden of her Black womanhood, and heroically manages the brutal attacks on her Black motherhood, when she had to survive back-to-back matches, donning a controversial bodysuit to prevent blood clotting to the memorable disdain of French Open 2018.
She keeps going and makes it look so easy when we know it’s anything but that.
As the decade ends, we salute this Black woman who rules the world and take a look back for the valuable reminders.