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Serena Williams Has the Perfect Response for People Who Call Her ‘Manly’



Serena Williams

Serena Williams has, unfortunately, faced a consistent stream of body shaming from those who label her muscles and power as “manly.”


She’s addressed these problematic comments before, but gets particularly candid about them in her new cover interview for the issue of Harper’s Bazaar U.K..

Serena Williams Reveals Her Stunning Backyard Pool

Serena Williams Reveals Her Stunning Backyard Pool

In it, she explains the much healthier, more empowering mind-set she’s adopted to ignore the haters and keep doing what it takes to win 23 Grand Slam singles titles and four Olympic gold medals—and counting.

“It was hard for me,” Williams said. “People would say I was born a guy, all because of my arms, or because I’m strong. I was different to Venus:

Serena Williams in white

She was thin and tall and beautiful, and I am strong and muscular—and beautiful, but, you know, it was just totally different.” Bazaar then asked Williams about a 2004 report in which she said one of her goals, at the time, was to reach a size four. “Oh God, I’ll never be a size four,” Williams replied. “Why would I want to do that, and be that?”

“This is me, and this is my weapon and machine,” Williams continued, pointing to her biceps. “But I love that I said that, because I can understand.

Serena Williams in gown

I can show Olympia [her daughter] that I struggled, but now I’m happy with who I am and what I am and what I look like. Olympia was born and she had my arms, and instead of being sad and fearful about what people would say about her, I was just so happy.”

Williams knew from the beginning that Olympia would be just as strong as her. “I knew I was having a girl, because when I was playing tennis in the [2017 Australia Open], I didn’t have one day of morning sickness, no symptoms.

Serena Williams Palm Beach Garden in Florida

Serena Williams Palm Beach Garden in Florida

Australia is really hot, some days can be over 40 degrees [Celsius], which is insane, but she never complained. I said to Alexis, ‘This is a girl. Only a woman can be this strong.'”