One of the most prolific sports careers in history came to an end earlier this week with Serena Williams retiring from professional tennis.
With a career unlike any other within the sport, Williams challenged many preconceived notions about black women in sports and even the longevity and capability of women in the athletic sphere.
Her career and persona was meaningful to many individuals globally, and a recent New York Times article highlights her impact.
“On Friday, a few weeks before her 41st birthday, Serena Williams lost to Ajla Tomljanovic in the third round of the U.S. Open, 7-5, 6-7 (4), 6-1, in what is very likely the end of a career that forever changed the world’s perception and understanding of women — especially Black women — in sports.
Williams dominated generation after generation of opponents for 27 years and changed the way women’s tennis is played, winning 23 Grand Slam singles titles, one shy of the record, and cementing her reputation as the queen of comebacks.
Are you a tennis or sports fan? Have you followed Serena’s career on and off the court? What are your lasting thoughts and memories of her legacy?
AMANDA DAVIS, 35, BROOKLYN
My friends and I talk about it to this day: When you had beads in your hair as a kid, you couldn’t tell us nothing. It felt like they were bringing our childhood to the court with her.
She opened doors for Black women to go into spaces where we’re not welcome and also to not conform. She brought her hairstyle. She brought her structure, her build. She brought the emotion. A lot of times as a Black woman, you’re told to be quiet. When she was upset, everyone knew. She showed anger.
Serena showed me that who I am is enough. We’re enough. She feels like a big sister. And we came here for her, like, “We’re here for you.”
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In many ways, we as a society draw inspiration from sports stars and their careers.
We admire their dedication to the craft and their resilience, especially when these individuals have persevered through unique and tumultuous circumstances.
Serena Williams built more than a successful career; she built a legacy that will continue to shape tennis and other sports for years to come.
A sports career is much like running a business, especially regarding the unprecedented times that both spheres encounter.
Williams and other sports stars are great because of the adversity and uncertainty they encountered throughout their careers. Your business will experience challenges, but your preparedness and reaction to these obstacles will define your company.
Make your business strategy fluid and accommodating, and always be prepared to overcome any challenges you may face.
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