What Serena Williams Found in Her Life

How Serena Williams rewrote the playbook for female athletes juggling motherhood and sport

A self-help book

If you are a mother of daughters, you are bound to have a few close friends who are mothers of daughters. In fact, you probably have a few friends who have at least a few more friends than they can count. What is that, you ask? It is the same question most women ask as we discuss mothers. In my family, the women who were most successful beyond anything I could have asked for was my mom and her sister. My dad was there and I guess I wanted him to be there for a time. My mom was just the best.

So, I never knew for sure that women with daughters have to be particularly exceptional at being moms. I never knew that a woman with daughters has to be really exceptional at being a mother. What I did know was that my mom was the best. And though she often had to pull herself out of an impossible situation by the skin of her bones, she managed to do it and she did it with style.

My mom’s story, like so many mothers with daughters, had a few things in common with what Serena Williams found in her own life when she became just as good as any mother could be. But she did it without always knowing it.

She was the daughter of a single mother (her mom was not really a single mom, actually) of a single mother (in her case, from the age of 11 until she went off to college). There were no brothers and sisters or a big brother or sister. She had one father. He had moved to California for work, but he always took her to tennis tournaments and to the practice facilities. She had no male role models to show her what to do or how to be a good mother. She had to learn on the fly.

She went to tennis tournaments. She went to tennis teams her junior year and then junior college and then up to Harvard on a tennis scholarship. She was good, by any measure, but she never felt like she was good enough. She

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