Serena Williams was named Sports Illustrated‘s Sportsperson of the Year last week. And, just in case you missed it, we want to share with you the speech she made because it was an important moment for sport, for feminism, and for African America women.
It had been more than 30 years since Sports Illustrated last recognised a woman for the award (That was track athlete Mary Decker).
“For all the ladies out there, yes, we can do it,” Williams said.. “When I first started playing tennis, women weren’t really encouraged to play sports, let alone excel in sports. My hope by winning this award can inspire many, many, many more women – in less than 30 years, of course – to stand right here on this podium and accept another Sportsperson of the Year.”
She said she had often been underestimated over the years because of the colour of her skin and because of her gender.
“The ride for me has not been easy,” she said. “I’ve had people look down on me. I’ve had people put me down because I didn’t look like them. I look stronger. I’ve had people look past me because of the colour of my skin. I’ve had people overlook me because I was a woman. I’ve had critics say I would never win another Grand Slam when I was only at number seven and now here I stand today with 21 Grand Slam titles and I’m still going.”
And then she finished by reciting her favourite poet Maya Angelou.