Once a girl crosses the threshold into womanhood, society establishes two paths for her to pursue: a career or a family. However, once a woman decides her fate, the stigma of either route is stamped onto her chest and characterizes her as “lazy” or “selfish.” Suddenly, it becomes an either-or situation where women are criticized for any life decision, so why not choose both?
That’s exactly what Serena Williams did when she won the Australian Open and a 23rd grand slam while eight weeks pregnant without dropping a single set. Keeping the pregnancy a secret allowed the audience to focus on the match rather than spark negative commentary about the baby’s health. Now, Serena Williams is blurring the boundaries between the binary, demolishing any stigma that belittles a woman’s character.
Although Serena accomplished pursuing her career for as long as her body could handle throughout her pregnancy, there were still many people questioning why she did not pause her career—because she simply does not have to. The athlete knew her body enough to know when she had to take a break once approaching her due date. However, pausing is not sign of weakness, but rather necessary for her and her baby’s health. Not to mention, giving birth is quite an impressive experience altogether.
There is no need for a woman to grapple with sticking to one category; embracing a career and a family can develop a much more empowering individual. If a man decides to work tremendous hours while providing for his family, he is celebrated for his choices while the woman is criticized. Stemming from this idea are preconceived ideas that stereotype women as inferior; it crafts a narrow mindset that sets women up for failure.
Today, Serena Williams and other successful women are defying failure and conquering multiple responsibilities.
While women do not belong to one category, Serena Williams does not allow tennis to define her. Instead Serena Williams claims that she is a feminist, a strong woman who takes on the strength as an athlete, the voice as an activist for black women, and now a mother to a baby girl since September 1st.
Letting motherhood not be the end of her career, Serena Williams will be back in 2018, infusing even more power behind her swing and fighting for something greater beyond the tennis courts—diversity and equality.