How Serena Williams rewrote the playbook for female athletes juggling motherhood and sport.
When Serena Williams, the American tennis great, started writing a book on women as sportswriters, she was probably hoping it would change the way people saw her.
Williams, 41, was at the centre of an Olympic scandal in which she was accused of covering up sex abuse she had suffered from her coach and other male players, and she was stripped of her Olympic medals. She later made clear that there was something her opponents did not understand about the way she approached her sport.
“I was surprised by how quickly the conversation turned to sexual abuse,” Williams writes in her forthcoming book, “Unforgiven,” which will be published next year.
As one of the world’s best-paid athletes, she was a cultural phenomenon in the United States, but she was also a woman who was wrestling with the fact that she had to juggle the demands of being a mother to two young boys and the demands of her sport.
Here, Williams looks back on her life, through the prism of the intersection of sport and motherhood.
Williams was born and brought up in Minnesota. The second of three children — her older brother Jason was two years older, her sister Venus was five years older — she spent her first 14 years on the family farm in rural Minnesota.
“My family life [was] very, very good,” she told the Washington Post for a story last year. “My mom, when she first moved us to California, came with us for three months. Her first act was just to get us to go to Disneyland.”
Williams’ father, George, a former college tennis player who played under the name “Pops” throughout the 1920s and 30s, was the first athlete who taught her how to play tennis