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Serena Williams says she and Venus were never 'afraid to be black' in tennis, and she wants her own daughter to be confident in her body

Business Insider | Jan 11, 2019, 06.24PM IST

Venus Williams and Serena Williams

AP Photo/Kamran Jebreili

Venus Williams and Serena Williams.

  • Serena Williams has said there were not a lot of role models for her to look up to when she first started playing tennis.
  • This meant she took on that role herself and, thanks to life lessons from her parents to always love the way she looked, she has never been "afraid" to be black in tennis.
  • Williams is currently preparing to compete in the 2019 Australian Open which begins on Monday. She takes on Tatjana Maria in the first round on Tuesday.

Serena Williams has said that neither she or her sister Venus Williams were ever "afraid to wear braids" or "be black in tennis."

Williams is regarded as the most dominant women's tennis player ever. The 37-year-old has held the world number one rank for a total of 319 weeks, the third best all-time record. She is a 23-time Grand Slam champion, and has earned over $88 million in career prize money.

But speaking to Allure, the American said weren't many role models for her to look up to in the sport when she first started playing.

She said she had to adopt that role herself and that as soon as she and her sister Venus became famous around the world as wildly-talented teenagers, their parents ensured they remained body-positive and knew how to love the way they looked.

Read more: The cartoonist who turned Serena Williams into an angry baby doesn't think his drawing is racist and says 'the world has just gone crazy'

"Venus and I started out being successful, continued to be successful, and we were also unapologetically ourselves. We were not afraid to wear braids. We weren't afraid to be black in tennis. And that was different," she said.

It is also something she wants to teach her own daughter, Alexis Olympia Ohanian Jr.

"My mom instilled in us to be confident women, to really believe in ourselves, be proud of our heritage, our hair, and our bodies. That was something that was really important for her to teach us. I'm definitely teaching it to my daughter."

Williams is currently preparing to compete in the 2019 Australian Open, a competition she won whilst eight weeks pregnant the last time she played in it two years ago.

Williams has been drawn as a 16 seed and could face her 2018 US Open final opponent Naomi Osaka in the semi-final stage if both athletes make it that far.

Williams famously lost in straight sets to Osaka at Flushing Meadows last year, after getting slapped with three code violations for coaching (which she denied), smashing her racket (which cost her a point), and calling the umpire a "thief," which cost her a game.

The Australian Open begins on Monday. Williams takes on Tatjana Maria in the first round on Tuesday.

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