Even legendary athletes who overcome adversity experience fear, and Serena Williams recently got candid about her emotional journey within her career as well as how that journey affects her parenting. In a recent interview on her bestie Meghan Markle’s podcast, Archetypes, the pair discuss the impact female stereotypes had on her mental wellness and profession and how ambition has always been seen more as a negative than a positive when you’re a woman.
Markle and Williams are both California born, and the Duchess of Essex illuminated another interesting parallel between the two: they have been challenging female stereotypes since they were eleven years old.
Meghan shared how she was able to change the language of an old commercial from “women” to “people” after doing a letter campaign to influential figures, and then she played a clip of preteen Serena being interviewed, in which she was asked, “If you were tennis player, who would you want to be like?” to which she coyly replied, “Well, I’d like other people to be like me.”
While chuckling at her almost unconscious bravery at a young age, she also mentioned an article she read recently, explaining, “Girls tend to raise their hands less and less as time goes on, because their confidence starts to fade because of the things they're called, so it's quite interesting that by the time they reach high school or college that they aren’t raising their hand as much. Hopefully, we can teach our girls to continue to raise their hands, to be fearless.”
Meghan elaborated on childhood fearlessness, how it seems so innate when we are young, and it fades as we get older, and Serena agreed, sharing, “I would swim in the ocean, and you couldn't get me in the ocean, I am so afraid of open water. Fear can go on so many different levels, but when you're little, you don't think about it. Everything is such an amazing experience.”
“I see it in Olympia; I see how fearless she is, and I encourage her because I am afraid of heights, and I’ll just be like, ‘This is great!’ and she embraces it. Because I don't want her to take on my fears, and I think that's important when you're raising a child, [that] they don't take on your fears,” she added.
When Meghan proclaimed that not only has her tennis career made her an amazing role model, but also her endeavors as a successful entrepreneur and that her ambition in various avenues is what will shape Olympia’s view on that word. To which a humble Serena replied, “I hope she does, she's still young, and I don't even know what I do or who I am.”
On how she sees fearlessness in general, the venture capitalist shares that not all fear is debilitating, explaining, “I think fearlessness is super important, and I think as you grow with the experience, think of it as a wound if you burn yourself, obviously, you don't touch the fire again, so you're learning behaviors that make you stop, and that gives you this healthy fear, because there is a healthy fear or this godly fear, and it's not a bad thing it's just a precaution that we need.”
Not sure if it’s even genetically possible for Olympia to not be an exceptional person, but it’s good to know that Serena is covering all the bases.
You can listen to the full interview on Meghan Markle's podcast, Archetypes, now streaming on Spotify.