Those killer curves that men drool over and amazing legs and arms that women envy, weren’t always embraced by tennis champion Serena Williams. The 31-year-old Cali native, who along with her sister (Venus) have been a force to recon with on the tennis court, says that growing up, she wasn’t a fan of being ‘thick’. In an interview with Du Jour she explained:
Well, I wasn’t always confident. I just started feeling comfortable with myself about six or seven years ago. That’s why I tell people that even at 25 or 26, it’s OK if you’re feeling uncomfortable with yourself. I was too. It’s normal. I love who I am, and I encourage other people to love and embrace who they are. But it definitely wasn’t easy—it took me a while.
And having a body shape different than your older sister, Venus, who was much taller and thinner didn’t help:
I grew up with a lot of sisters—I was the youngest, and I was really thick. My sister Venus was so tall and slim, and just being in a society where a lot of people are really thin, it was hard. Especially as an athlete. No athlete has boobs like me. But I had to learn how to embrace myself and embrace my curves. And that’s something a lot of people can relate to.
Check out a few other excerpts from the interview:
Is it impossible for you to go out in public without getting recognized?
I could never go to places like [Starbucks]—I have to send someone out for me. I really don’t like to say no to pictures, so I always end up saying yes. But if you say yes to one, then there’s 20 people asking, and then there’s 30. It’s crazy, so I’m in my room a lot. During a tournament I hardly ever leave the hotel. Ever.
You have an apartment in Paris—is it less crazy there?
Paris used to be my safe haven. It was always a big sigh of relief for me there. I didn’t have to worry. But ever since I won Roland Garros [the French Open], I don’t really go out there. Or I go to the country.
Do you ever wish you could live normally?
I don’t complain about it—it’s just something you have to get used to. It’s such a humbling feeling that anyone would even watch me play. I feel so honored, honestly, by anyone who’s a fan of mine and who appreciates me.
So when you’re holed up in your apartment or a hotel, do you get cabin fever?
No. I do work and watch a lot of TV. I’m a big fan of Netflix. I just saw Orange Is the New Black, but it was too violent for me. I also spend a lot of time designing. I have two collections.
You’ve been working and training unbelievably hard for more than half your life. Are there ever mornings you wake up and think, I don’t feel like doing this anymore?
Not yet. But if I do, that’ll be the day I realize that time’s up. Right now I’m having so much fun…and I’m still pretty good at what I do [laughs]. So it’s like, why not keep going? You only get this opportunity once in your life.