Serena Williams' 'Sports Illustrated' Sportsperson Of The Year Acceptance Speech Is Flawless, So Here Are 5 Life Lessons To Learn From It — VIDEO
2015 was the year of Serena Williams, from her three Grand Slam victories to her graceful return to Indian Wells to her recognition as Sports Illustrated's Sportsperson of the Year. And Serena Williams' Sportsperson of the Year acceptance speech absolutely lived up to every other fantastic Serena Williams moment from 2015. And apart from being a beautiful and historic moment, there are so many important messages we can take away from her speech.
Serena Williams has been a force to be reckoned with in professional tennis for years, and she continues to dominate at an age when most players have already retired. But at the age of 34, Williams shows no signs of stopping. This year she won three Grand Slam titles and had her second Serena Slam. She faced off against her sister on the court multiple times, and gave some excellent answers to nosy reporters. She was rumored to be dating Drake, and was featured on the cover of Vogue and New York magazine. She made a graceful return to the Indian Wells tournament, 14 years after she and her sister faced racist taunts there from the crowd. And she continued to be one of the most amazing athletes currently playing in any sport.
All this is why it was so amazing that Sports Illustrated picked her as Sportsperson of the Year, making her the first black athlete ever to win the award and the first woman to win in 32 years. Her victory was both well-earned and historic, and her acceptance speech was no less wonderful than one would expect.
Here are five lessons we can all take away from Serena Williams' victory speech.
1. Be Grateful To The People Who Got You Here
Williams starts out her speech by first and foremost thanking everyone who made her success possible, including God, her family, her agent, and the rest of her team. Graciousness is always a good idea.
2. Yes, You Can Do It
As Williams herself notes, it's been more than 30 years since Sports Illustrated recognized a woman as Sportsperson of the Year; furthermore Williams also says that when she was young, girls weren't even encouraged to play tennis. But in spite of all the inequality that still persists, she has a message for girls and women: "You can do it!"
"No matter how old you are, how young you are, you can do anything you set your mind to," she says.
3. Never Stop Setting Goals
Some athletes might see winning Sportsperson of the Year as a crowning achievement and an excuse for some well deserved celebration and relaxation, but Williams says that winning this award just makes her want to push herself more — to get back out on the court and train.
4. Believe In Yourself
"Sometimes you're going to be your biggest cheerleader," Williams says. Over the course of her career, Williams has suffered set backs and tragedies and controversies — to say nothing of the fact that most people never would have assumed a black girl from Compton could become an international tennis star to begin with. But she believed it, and that was what mattered most.
5. Show Up All Your Haters
Serena Williams has had a lot of haters over the years; a lot of people have sought to belittle her accomplishments. This year alone has seen several articles obsessing over her supposedly "masculine" physique (cue all of the eye rolling), and in fact some very strange people were actually upset that she beat out the Triple Crown-winning racehorse American Pharaoh for Sportsperson of the Year.
But in her speech Serena makes a joke out of the horse controversy — and of all her haters. "I've had people look down on me. I've had people put me down because I don't look like them — I look stronger. I've had people look past me because of the color of my skin. I've had people overlook me because I was a woman. I've had critics say I would never win another Grand Slam when I was only at number seven, and here I stand today with 21 Grand Slam titles — and I'm still going!"
Watch the full speech below — it's so, so worth it.