Exclusive: Serena Williams Shares The Fellow Athletes She Gets Starstruck By
Michelob Ultra

In a preview of a sure to be iconic commercial done by Michelob Ultra for the Super Bowl, Serena Williams strolls into the “Superior Bowl” bowling alley, fashionably late, ready to knock down some pins with some of the biggest names in sports. But according to the 23-time Grand Slam winner, she’s just acting really, really well. Her talents are on the tennis court, not on the lanes.

Listen, I’m not a good bowler,” she tells ESSENCE. “I’m just not a good bowler, but I’m a good actor so I look like I’m a good bowler.”

She adds, “I have nails for crying out loud!”

Williams was down to pretend in order to take part in the lager brand’s star-powered Super Bowl ad. It was a no-brainer for her, as she respects Michelob’s commitment to empowering women athletes. Such efforts from the brand are just one of a number of reasons big names, including Peyton Manning, Jimmy Butler, Alex Morgan, Nneka Ogwumike and more, alongside Williams, took part in the spot. We chatted with the legend about the commercial, her Super Bowl plans, and if she gets starstruck by other talented athletes like the ones she starred alongside for Michelob Ultra. (The answer is yes!)

ESSENCE: For Michelob Ultra’s Super Bowl ad, you filmed it with some amazing legendary athletes like yourself, including Peyton Manning, Alex Morgan, and some newer names like Jimmy Butler. How fun was it to get to do an ad like this and to do it at the bowling alley? Because we know you for tennis.

Serena Williams: I know! That was what’s so amazing about it, all these athletes have absolutely nothing to do with bowling outside of the fact that they may do it for fun. So it was really cool to shoot it at the bowling alley and just kind of have a different take like, “All these athletes, we’re good at what we do. Oh, and by the way, we’re clearly good at bowling as well.” We have this “secret league.”

Why was it important to work with Michelob knowing their commitment to increasing the visibility of women athletes out there?

Isn’t that great? I love that they are so committed to increasing the visibility of amazing women athletes. That’s one thing that’s really cool about this spot is that the Super Bowl spot will actually feature just as many female athletes as males. Earlier in the year they committed to supporting gender equality in sports. And so it’s so great to see Michelob Ultra walking the walk and talking the talk and putting that commitment into action and doing that in the biggest advertising moment of the year.

As one of the greatest athletes of all time, shooting this ad with other huge talents, is there anyone out there in sports that you get starstruck by, or that you have been starstruck by in the past?

I mean, yeah. Whenever you see anyone that’s so good at their craft and so successful, it’s like, you’re naturally like, “Dang, I’m obsessed with this person.” There’s so many. It could even be even colleagues of mine like [Rafael] Nadal or even the new number one Ashleigh Barty and like Alex Morgan… I think they’re so good at what they do and I just feel like that’s pretty cool. I like Megan Rapinoe, too. I think she’s just pretty cool. I think she’s rad, man. I think she’s really rad.

Michelob Ultra

Awesome! And so what are your plans for Super Bowl Sunday?

I have plans on actually going. It’s been a long time since I’ve gone to a Super Bowl because it’s something about watching the Super Bowl at home, because it’s like, you don’t want to miss any of the commercials. So that’s kind of one of my plans, but yeah, I just feel like it’s in LA, I’m from LA, it would be good for me to kind of go and support that Super Bowl and just make sure I watch the screen when the [Michelob Ultra] ad comes on.

And so we know who you’re rooting for then…LA right?

No, you don’t know who I’m rooting for. Don’t make assumptions now…

And in reference to Michelob’s “It’s only worth it if you enjoy it” mantra, I wanted to ask you, how does that message connect to you and your love of the game of tennis that you have had for all of these years? How do you still find that joy in the game?

I have a shared belief with Michelob that joy is a critical factor, quite frankly, in the success of careers and it’s definitely a critical factor in the success of my career. So partnering around the Super Bowl and talking to this and talking about, you know, joy and happiness and how to inspire fans to actually take a moment for them, to reflect on how joy plays a part in their own lives is really interesting. And it’s a different take. We’ve been through a lot as a world, not as a people, but just globally, we’ve been through a lot. And so we want to just make sure that we reflect, and make sure everyone’s taking out time to have joyful moments.