By Nisha Susan
First off, Serena Williams (Serena! Serena!) in a brand new ad for the watch company Audemars Piguet. Williams is strong, graceful, charismatic in a breath-taking way (as per usual) in this monochromatic video. What made us extra gleeful is that that when she recites that jolly old colonialist Rudyard Kipling’s poem If, she infuses it with fresh meaning that none of us ever felt while suffering through it in school. (Presumably the poem was picked because lines from it appear over the entrance to the central court at Wimbledon.) In Williams version it ends, “and, which is more, you’ll be a woman, Sister.” Yes, thank you. Serena! Serena!
Then there is the US gymnastics team in an Underarmour ad. It could have been pretty, pretty, cute, cute. But instead it gleams with hard work, determination and enormous power. It begins with the shot of the women lifting and flinging a huge gym mat and ends with their grim walking into the light. What goes on in between looks like what the Justice League does on days when they are working from home. They even fly.
The soundtrack with M.I.A’s Matangi is great, uptempo and as disorienting in this ad as the Kipling.
Chinese tennis start Li Na retired at the age of 32 in 2014. She has endorsed Nike since she was 15 and was reportedly so important to Nike that a building in their Chinese headquarters was named after her. There’s the straight motivational ad or you can watch this cheeky one.
Talking about “where you coming from”, mixed martials arts champion Ronda Rousey in this ad for Budweiser urges you to never forget where you came from. Rousey, the first American woman to get an Olympic medal in judo is usually much more rowdy and colorful than this ad would have you know. But Ronda in a hoodie-and-skipping rope Rocky IV montage is oddly satisfying too.
And one last one. This doesn’t have a sportsperson but it does have the fascinating ballerina Misty Copeland, the first African American Female Principal Dancer with the prestigious American Ballet Theatre. The voiceover is reading a letter that Copeland got as a child telling her that she had the wrong body for ballet. You won’t think we are cheating at all once you’ve seen it.