Serena Williams is gracing the cover of Vogue’s annual Shape Issue. In the feature, Serena and tennis friend Caroline Wozniaki open up about friendship, dating, forgiveness, fitness and more.
Check out some snippets below.
“I am really shy. I don’t talk to guys. Friends? Yes. But a potential? No. I get nervous that I will say the wrong thing, and then I just start laughing.”
On staying fit:
“Nowadays everybody goes to the gym. But when I won my first Grand Slam, I had never been.” Even then, however, she was ambivalent about her naturally muscular physique, refusing to lift weights lest her arms get bigger. “I hated my arms.” “I wanted them to look soft.” To this day, she uses TheraBands instead of weights to avoid overdeveloping her muscles.
On playing with her sister:
“I don’t look at Venus on the court. I can’t,” she said. “If I am winning, I might feel sorry for her. If I’m losing, I will want to knock her out.
“…you can see it in her recently announced decision to go back to Indian Wells, a tournament she had vowed to boycott permanently after the largely white, largely senior audience booed the then–nineteen-year-old player throughout an entire match. The crowd had believed that Venus had pulled out of a match at the last minute to make sure the two did not play each other in the semifinals. It is a testament to her grit that Serena won on that difficult day, but she spent the next several hours weeping in the locker room. “Say whatever you want about me and Venus,” Williams would later write in her autobiography, “at the end of the day we were just a couple of kids, trying to do our best.”
“Every year, officials at the tournament begged her to come back. Every year, she said no. Even a new owner, billionaire Larry Ellison, and his multimillion-dollar makeover of the tournament—there’s now a Nobu—did not sway her. Then, about a year and a half ago, Williams spent Christmas vacation reading Nelson Mandela’s autobiography, Long Walk to Freedom. His account of his struggles caused her to reflect on how she was walking through her own life. “That’s when I realized I had to go back,” she says. “I always talk about forgiveness, but I needed to actually show it. It was time to move on.”
Image Credits: Annie Leibovitz/VOGUE