A letter to Alexis Olympia, Serena’s daughter.

Alexis Olympia,

By the time you read this letter, it will probably be weird to you realizing that I wrote it when you were just ten months old.

You will also find it weird, that I had no writing background or expertise whatsoever. At the time, I was just a sports fan fighting for his professional dreams.  Same as your mother once was and has inspired millions to do so.

I chose this specific moment because your mother, unexpectedly lost the opportunity to win her 24th Grand Slam title and tie Margaret Court as the most all time. With that, she reminded us that she is actually human.

You might laugh, but this reminder might not happen again.

You should know that there was a time were women were not allowed to work, vote, or even considered being part of society. Fortunately for you, these sexist injustices might only be part of history books, but at the time your mother was born, Congress was still debating if women should go to college.

When your mother was nine years old, your grandfather pulled her out of national junior tournaments, in part, because white parents used to talk about her in derogatory manners during tournaments.

Hard to believe it, but there were still stupid people that were more focused on the skin color of your mother than on her 46-3 record she already had at that point.

Speaking of your grandfather, I really recommend you sitting with him and learning from all the stories he must know from the time, in 1995, he decided to coach your mother full time. As the New York Times expressed it, he was responsible for developing the most powerful forehand in women’s game history.

He will be able to tell you that, although we have forgotten, failure was always present during the early years of your mother’s career.

In her first professional appearance, she only won two games. At her debut in a Grand Slam tournament during the Australian Open in 1998, she lost to your aunt in the second round, and, over the same year, she lost all the other six quarterfinals she managed to reach.

It is very important that you hear these stories because amazing accomplishments, like the fact that it was 1998 the only year in which your mother failed to win a Major title when competing at all four, has made us somehow forget that she built her strong character through adversity.

If you consider your mother to be your everyday inspiration, you might want to ask her about Ms. Althea Gibson and what she meant to her growing up. In 1956, Ms. Gibson became the first person of color to win a Grand Slam Title, and, your mother followed her in 2002 as the only two African American women to end the year with the number one ranking.

By the way, also ask her how she felt that same year when she became the first woman to win three Grand Slams titles in one year.

I told you I wrote this letter right after your mother lost Wimbledon’s 2018 final. Well, you might also like to know that this was the last time it happened since 2008 when your aunt beat her.

This is important, it will remind yo not to do the same mistake we all constantly do when we forget to thank the forces and people that shape us. Your aunt, Venus, has always been the hidden power behind your mother’s development. Like sisters, they always fought intensively, in the process, creating the best tennis tandem this world has ever seen.

At the moment, together they have won fourteen Grand Slams doubles titles.

If you ever hear the term “Serena Slam” on ESPN, you can impress everyone around you by telling them that you know it refers to the two occasions your mother won the four Grand Slam tournaments in a row. You might also want to finish your comment by reminding everybody that she has been awarded seven times by the same company as the best female tennis player in the world.

Jokingly, if your dad ever tries to make you decide between him and your mother with the ridiculous question: “who do you love more?”, you can remind him that your mother is the only tennis player in history (man or woman) to have won singles titles at least six times in three of the four Grand Slam tournaments, and the only player ever to have won two Grand Slams seven times each (Wimbledon and Australian Open). That might resolve the issue.

Finally, if you think it was crazy that you were ten months old when I wrote this letter, let me tell you it was crazier (in a good way) that you had two months living in your mother’s body when she won the Australian Open?

Your mother is the greatest female athlete of all time. It takes twenty-four unforced errors from her to lose a match. Even Angelique Kerber, who beat her in this last final, immediately said to her after receiving the trophy: “You are an inspiration to all of us…”.

But I did not write you this letter to remind you of something that you probably live with every single day of your life.

I wrote you this letter with the sole purpose of reminding you that your mother, besides being such an amazing tennis player, is also one of the greatest women this world has ever seen.

She is a woman that struggled to stop breastfeeding you because, on her words: “My whole fear is that I’m going to hold her and then she’s going to turn to me, and I’m not going to have any milk. It’s going to literally break my heart.”

She is a woman that has used her money, with decisions like being the first black woman to hold any amount of ownership in an NFL franchise, to show all the women in the world that economic barriers can be broken and that female dreams are as achievable as men’s.

She is a woman that has used the power of sport to change many people’s lives like the ones of the children in Kenya.

Most importantly, I wrote you this letter to remind you that your mother, Serena, was not born with super powers that made her the greatest. She built her success brick by brick, failure after failure.

I wrote you this letter, so you always remember that your mother, over being the best female athlete of all time, is one of the most inspiring human beings.

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