Serena Williams: What do you tell your kids?

How Serena Williams rewrote the playbook for female athletes juggling motherhood and sport

A look at how a mother’s strength is the key to overcoming injuries and giving her children the best chance to succeed

Serena Williams may be the greatest tennis player of all time by any measure, her victory streak spanning 40 straight matches from 2006–2009 and now entering the third decade since her championship run. But in all her years of dominating the women’s game, she has never spoken publicly about the impact of her own medical woes and ensuing surgeries on her family. Here, the 36-year-old takes us behind the scenes to tell her story.

When you’re a mother, what do you tell your children?

I tell them love. In a very simple way. For my girls, I tell them not to worry. They have so much love and support around them. But to give them the best support as they approach their late 20s, they’re in the last year of high school. It’s very confusing, because you don’t know your body. So I try to focus on loving my kids, because they have so much love and support from their mom and dad. I tell them if they want to play some tennis, they can play, they’re not going to sit back and not play.

Tell your kids love, but also tell them that you have to be prepared.

I always try to remember that one of the hardest things about being a mother is giving them the best support that they can give. To give them the best advice for things they’re going through and giving them good health. And then also giving them the best advice for the future and giving them good health. I tell them not to worry about it. I also say, “Remember that no matter what happens, I will be around for them. No matter what things are, I will be there if they need help or to solve a problem.”

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