There isn’t a day when the mere thought of Serena Williams doesn’t fill us with immense general joy. But today, we actually have two Serena-themed gifts to direct all our love and energy towards!
The first is a really excellent cover story profile-cum-interview of Williams in Vogue published early this morning. It reminds you of all those facets of Williams’ personality that you may have forgotten about (or never known) because of how outrageous her talent and prowess is, and the automatic assumption that she’s infallible off the court too.
In the interview, she talks about self-control, her fear of rule-breaking and blood clots, and how she would do in the infamous Stanford Marshmallow Experiment. It touches on her childhood love for dolls, her adulthood love of printing and paper, and her return to practising tennis a mere week after her first walk around the block after her harrowing, blood-clot-filled medical experience post delivering baby Olympia Alexis Ohanian Jr. There’s also a really adorable bit about how hard it is for her to play her sister Venus, because she looks sad and solemn when she’s losing, and the trick she uses to get over it (not looking at her face).
It really must be so wonderfully strange to be Serena Williams. She doesn’t feel the need to say she might lose against her sister for any reason but being thrown by her sadness, but nor does she have any desire to lose to her either. When discussing her experience of being in a “medical catch-22” post delivery, where a life-saving blood thinner caused hemorrhaging at the site of her C-section, her husband, Reddit founder Alexis Ohanian Jr, poses a truly remarkable hypothetical. He says, “Consider for a moment that your body is one of the greatest things on this planet, and you’re trapped in it.” Except it’s only a hypothetical to us, and Williams’ actual reality.
But as the interview itself points out, when you’re so used to seeing her just absolutely dominate on court, scold boring interviewers who ask her to smile after a match, and correct anyone who calls her one of the greatest “female” athletes of all time, it’s easy to forget how real and often-vulnerable Williams really can be. Remember back in 2015, when she posted that heartbreaking tweet right after her Grand Slam win against Garbine Muguruz, saying that she’s finally getting her eyebrows shaped because of all her haters?
This interview reminds you of all those unexpected and ultimately kind of adorable facets of her personality that make you just want to hug her and thank her for being alive at the same time you are, especially when she arbitrarily bursts into song mid-interview.
And if you had any doubts about whether we’d be seeing more of her on the courts, make no mistake, she’s said as clearly as can be that she wants more Grand Slam titles, and fully intends to beat Margaret Court’s record of 24 Grand Slam wins and claim 25 for her own.
She also briefly mentioned that she tends to perform better when she isn’t anxious, and that a lot of her anxiety has gone away after she gave birth to Olympia. Of course, most media houses, from The Guardian to the Hindustan Times, have headlined their coverage of this excellent, in-depth, wide-ranging interview saying that motherhood has made her a better player, and will help her win more Grand Slam titles. *yawn*
Anyway, on to the second, truly glorious gift, which was part of the Vogue interview package too. It’s a video of Williams dancing and twerking on a private plane and runway with real-life air-traffic control officials to N.E.R.D and Rihanna’s Lemon. Vogue says that they offered her choreography, but Serena Williams, being Serena Williams, didn’t need it. Even Rihanna woke up stunned and overjoyed to see it, so here, enjoy.