Serena Williams didn’t feel her body type was “celebrated” when she was younger.
The tennis champion felt her sister Venus Williams was seen as having an “acceptable” shape because she is tall and thin, but her own curvacious frame wasn’t viewed in a positive light.
She said: “When I was growing up, what was celebrated was different. Venus looked more like what is really acceptable: she has incredibly long legs, she’s really, really thin. I didn’t see people on TV that looked like me, who were thick. There wasn’t positive body image. It was a different age.”
But now, the 39-year-old sportswoman – who has three-year-old daughter Olympia with her husband Alexis Ohanian – celebrates her physique and only wishes she’d appreciated it sooner.
She added in an interview with Britain’s Vogue magazine: “How amazing that my body has been able to give me the career that I’ve had, and I’m really thankful for it. I only wish I had been thankful sooner.
“It just all comes full circle when I look at my daughter.”
While Serena feels “underpaid and undervalued”, she is proud of who she is.
She said: “Underpaid, undervalued. I’ve never been a person that has been like, ‘I want to be a different colour’ or ‘I want my skin tone to be lighter.’
“I like who I am, I like how I look, and I love representing the beautiful dark women out there. For me, it’s perfect. I wouldn’t want it any other way.”
Serena loves celebrating women and wants to set an example on how to use her “voice” in the right way.
She said: ““In this society, women are not taught or expected to be that future leader or future CEO. The narrative has to change. And maybe it doesn’t get better in time for me, but someone in my position can show women and people of colour that we have a voice, because lord knows I use mine. I love sticking up for people and supporting women. Being the voice that millions of people don’t have.”
Read the full feature in the November issue of British Vogue here.