Serena Williams' victory this weekend at the French Open was not only a professional triumph, but it also shines a light on the incredible transformation Serena has been undergoing for the last two years. Not long ago, she was battling health issues and finding it hard to breathe. Now, as she told us in her exclusive interview with ESSENCE in our July issue, "I feel lighter, I feel healthier, and even though I'm 31—which really isn't old, but for an athlete, particularly a tennis player, it's old—I promise you, my body has never felt better. Considering how much I've played and how much I've done, I feel fine. I'm strong."
That strength radiates from the inside out. Serena, who has admitted that she can psyche herself out in competition, now feels she has a much better handle on that mental game. The woman she is today is not the same person she was in 2002, when she last won the French Open. "It's so important to be comfortable with you," she told ESSENCE. "You have to be able to look in the mirror and say I love myself." Not only is Serena saying it, but she's owning it. When she raised the trophy high, grinning from ear to ear, after her exciting win, I hope a part of her was also smiling on the inside with words of self-affirmation and self-acceptance. Serena, we're celebrating with you.
For more on Serena Williams, check out the July iisue of ESSENCE.