Serena Williams stuns in her latest magazine cover. The 34-year-old tennis champion boasts her toned arms and legs in a bold white body suit, but the star is not just showing off her physique. In a new interview with Melissa Harris-Perry, Williams opens up about her favorite poet Maya Angelou and gives her opinion on the wage gap. Plus, she explains what led to her twerking on Snapchat.
“I love ‘Phenomenal Woman,’ ” Williams tells Glamour magazine of Angelou’s poem. “The experiences she had of being African American in the U.S. — that itself is a task. I appreciate the hardships she went through for our generation. I’m super influenced by the black people that paved the way for us.”
While Williams can appreciate the arts, she does not take herself too seriously. She reveals what started that viral twerking video.
“I had to leave my house at 3:30 a.m. for a photo shoot,” she says. “By the time noon rolled around, I was so tired. I started making these silly videos, [including] the twerk tutorial. I was being super sarcastic. I said, ‘Engage your glutes’ and ‘Squeeze those quads.’ ”
It’s not all fun and games, though. The star was listed by Forbes as the highest-paid female athlete in the world after earning $28.9 million over the past 12 months. But Williams believes there is much work to be done for equal pay in the world of sports.
“We work just as hard as men do,” Williams says. “I’ve been working, playing tennis since I was three years old. And to be paid less just because of my sex — it doesn’t seem fair.”
She continues, wondering how the wage gap is going to affect her children when she begins a family.
“Will I have to explain to my daughter that her brother is gonna make more money doing the exact same job because he’s a man? If they both played sports since they were three years old, they both worked just as hard, but because he’s a boy, they’re gonna give him more money? Like, how am I gonna explain that to her?”
When it comes to the legacy the 21-time Grand Slam winner wants to leave behind, she says she is proud of her philanthropic work – tennis doesn’t come to mind.
“I never thought about leaving a tennis legacy,” she tells the magazine. “I always thought about leaving a legacy of fulfillment, living out your dreams, and giving back. I’m proud to have opened [two] schools in Africa and one in Jamaica [through the Serena Williams Fund and its partners]. I was given a lot. I was given two parents. That’s already starting above a lot of kids. And then I was given the opportunity to play tennis and parents who supported that. I feel I can give back.”
For the woman who grew up in Compton, California, Williams says “I never left my roots. You can identify me as someone that didn’t become high and mighty. Humility is a defining [trait] all of us can forever learn, and I try to be as humble as anyone can be. “