Serena Williams on playing sister Venus in the MWTC, raising daughter Alexis, and tackling sexism within tennis in EXCLUSIVE chat
Despite being defeated by sister Venus Williams during the Mubadala World Tennis Championship in Abu Dhabi this December, Serena Williams's status as one of the greatest athletes in the world is under no threat.
And from raising her one-year-old daughter Alexis (who adorably cheered for both her mum and aunt while in the crowd with dad, Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian) to her starting her own fashion empire, the 37 year old is scoring points both on and off the court.
Speaking exclusively to ShortList DXB, the 23-time Glam Slam winner, seven-time Wimbledon champion and Olympic gold medallist chats playing in the UAE, motherhood and her next career move:
Serena Williams with fellow tennis champions Venus Williams, Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal
Welcome to the UAE! What do you enjoy about playing out here?
I love the chance to inspire women to play tennis in the UAE. I am sure there is talent here and being able to let them know they can play just as good and probably better than me is a joy.
How does it feel when you're playing against your sister? When has it been the most difficult?
In tournaments we always play as competitors but in different settings we do have a bit of fun. However, with this being so close to the Australian open I know that we will both want to use this opportunity to be able to win this and truly get ready for the Open. Gosh, there have been so many [difficult matches] but I would say any Wimbledon final [is the most challenging].
You're outspoken about sexism within the sport...
Every sport and career path has its challenges. Sexism has been something really prominent in sports, and I am happy to have to go through things that other women will not have to go through in the future. [But] tennis is one of the few sports that has agreed to pay equal prize money at the main events (grand slams). There are still many more doors to be opened and I am happy to be there right the front of the line helping others open them.
Serena with sister Venus, who beat her during the Mubadala World Tennis Championship
You’re a mum now to a little girl – how has it changed you as a person, or even as a player?
As a person I can see that I am more open and I listen more. I really want to protect everyone and make a difference more than ever before. Tennis still has the same meaning. I just want to go out there and be the best but now not just for me but for my daughter as well.
Can you see Alexis being a tennis player?
I do not see my daughter as a tennis player but I have learned to never say never!!!
For me it is important to have my daughter choose her own career path. I would support her and of course if she chose to play sports I would be super happy! I think showing her how sports can help boost confidence and teach discipline, will naturally steer her towards sport even if she only wants to play recreationally.
The tennis champion also has her own fashion line, Serena
You’ve already come so far in your career and broken so many records – how do you stay motivated? What's your next goal?
There is always a goal. It is not about setting goals to beat it's just for me about doing something that I completely love. And that is what keeps me motivated. [The next step is] A fashion empire of course. I love building brands and creating something that people can truly enjoy from the quality to the service.
FLASH entertainment organised the MWTC events in Abu Dhabi this December which saw champions Serena Williams, Venus Williams, Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal take to the court.