by: Carey Creasey
Venus and Serena Williams are powerhouse players in the tennis world that serve up a healthy dose of body positivity. They've struggled with the press posting unflattering pictures, references and comparisons to the opposite sex, but they don't let it get them down. Both women are outspoken advocates of loving yourself and the body you live in, no matter what that looks like. Says Serena, "Since I don't look like every other girl, it takes a while to be okay with that. To be different. But different is good".
The Williams sisters push their bodies to the extreme on and off the court, with a combined 121 wins, they are arguably the strongest sisters in the sports world. Not only are they strong, they are also incredibly beautiful on the inside and outside! In April 2012, the sisters posed for the cover of The New York Times in sports bras and tennis shorts and skirt, respectively. They look powerful, bold, toned, and their thighs are touching. In a world where 'thigh gaps' are all the rage they are not concerned with what the world thinks of them or how we view their bodies. They serve themselves up for the world and take the aces with the faults, always striving to be the best they can be, on and off the court. As Serena points out in another Vogue interview from March 2015, even she struggles with self-confidence, “On the court, I am fierce! I am mean and I am tough. I am completely the opposite off the court. My confidence just isn’t the same. I wish I was more like I am on the court”.
Venus has been open about her struggles with re-gaining her self-confidence after a devastating back injury and how she developed a list of rules to follow to help her get her groove back. “What I quickly found was that recovering confidence can be tricky…I have made a set of rules that helped me along the way. It came through trial and error and a handful of somewhat tragic losses. Thankfully, my losses weren’t in vain: they paved the way to self-reflection and some mind-blowing insights”. One of those reflections is ‘to believe in yourself’ – Take a chance to believe in yourself. Never bet against yourself! Sometimes, you have to fake it until you make it. Act, speak, think and behave in a way that speaks to self-belief.”
Serena Williams recently penned an open letter about body image issues, love and life to her mother on Reddit. It is emotionally raw and describes the depth of harassment she faced in the sports world based on the way her body looked. She starts the letter by describing how her new baby girl’s features mirror some of her own, …”She has my arms and legs! My exact same strong, muscular, powerful, sensational arms and body”. You can feel the pride, love, and a mother’s concern for her daughter throughout the letter as she tries to makes sense of a world where women who don’t fit ‘sample sizes’ fit in. “I am proud we were able to show them what some women look like. We don’t all look the same. We are curvy, strong, muscular, tall, small, just to name a few, and all the same: We are women and we are proud!”
If two of the world's most recognized female athletes can workout in tennis skirts and short shorts then so can we!
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