National Eating Disorders Association
Blog

Serena Williams’ Inspiring Letter to Her Mom is a Win for Body Positivity

Anna Sundquist, Communications Intern

After giving birth to her first child, tennis star Serena Williams has posted a letter to her mother publicly on the social platform Reddit. In the letter, Williams writes about the admiration she holds towards her mother now that she has become a mother herself. 

Entering the world on September 1st, 2017, baby girl Alexis Olympia Ohanian, Jr. joins her parents, Serena and Alexis Ohanian. Williams announced her engagement to the Reddit co-founder Ohanian in December, which was followed by her pregnancy announcement in April. 

The letter calls out body shamers and expresses how Williams wishes to shield her daughter from the same type of body shame she experienced. The tennis player is undeniably strong and muscular, winning more than 23 Grand-Slam Championships in her career. These accomplishments were not met without criticism, with people calling her a “man because [she] appeared outwardly strong.” Williams continues the letter, also writing, “It has been said I don't belong in women's sports—that I belong in men's—because I look stronger than many other women do.” 

But the tennis star doesn’t let those words affect her. She embraces her body in an inspiring way, appreciating it for its strength and performance. The same strength can be seen in her daughter Alexis, Williams writes, saying “she has my arms and legs! My exact same strong, muscular, powerful, sensational arms and body.”

Williams continues writing, taking pride in the fact that she and her mother were able to break typical stereotypes of beauty, stating, "I am proud [my mother and I] were able to show them what some women look like. We don't all look the same. We are curvy, strong, muscular, tall, small, just to name a few, and all the same: we are women and proud!”

The self love and body acceptance that Williams displays is inspiring, and she will undoubtedly instill that confidence in her daughter, Alexis. 

Anna is a recently-retired ballerina, trying to use her experience to bring awareness and help others. She is excited to work with NEDA as an intern after her own recovery from an eating disorder. Anna is currently pursuing a degree in psychology.