Serena Williams is one of the world’s best athletes. Not only is she successful on the tennis court, but also in her ventures as a businesswoman. Recently, she started a new “job,” she became a mother (and a wife). Serena aims to be the best in all of these roles, and historically speaking, she’s been able to do that.
Being Serena is a documentary, a 5 part series, chronicling pivotal moment in the icon’s personal and professional life. HBO Sports and IMG’s Original Content group provide a truly intimate behind-the- scenes experience, as they follow the tennis star during her unplanned pregnancy, new motherhood, marriage, and the uphill battle to return to the court at nothing but her best.
If you’re not familiar with the powerhouse that is Serena Williams, she is 36 years old with 39 Grand Slam titles, four Olympic Gold Medals; and more W’s than any other female pro tennis athlete. Let’s be clear, when she won the 2017 Australian Open while pregnant; news outlets had headlines that read “Why it’s not surprising Serena Williams won the Australian Open while 8 weeks pregnant.” This week when she returned to compete for her first Grand Slam, since giving birth to her daughter, she didn’t shy away from attention; she owned a black ‘catsuit.’ She is a fierce competitor who dominates!!
When I heard there was a documentary coming out about her, I knew I had to see it. The 5 part series has a theme for each chapter; Fear, Strength, Family, Change, and Resolve. Williams is relatable with the first episode, as like many of us, she feared the unknown. She did not plan to have a child at this time and she has never been married, nor did she expect to be in her lifetime. The second episode demonstrated that Serena Williams is a champion through and through. Following the birth of her daughter, she knew she was not herself, and viewers are there as she advocates for her own wellbeing while experiencing life-threatening medical complications. In the chapter titled: Strength, Williams marries Alexis Ohanian, co-founder of Reddit, and returns to the court for an exhibition match. To show support for her return, Ohanian takes over a billboard that reads G.M.O.A.T. (greatest mother of all time). We see her clunky and uncomfortable on the court, but determined to rise.
For the fourth chapter, Serena is forced by her coach to embrace the dramatic change in her life and adapt to be not only the greatest tennis player, but also mother. Finally, the series concludes with Resolve, she is all-in and commits to intense and remote training, thousands of miles away from her husband; in order to return to her greatness on the court.
After watching this series, I believe Serena was open to her audience and gave us authentic access to her life. Her struggle is emotional, relatable, frustrating and inspiring. The athletes that I know, work hard every day to be the best- Serena doesn’t take days off. Balancing work and family is challenging, and just like us, champions find it hard to do too. Williams return to the court is frustrating, her body has to fight like hell to get back into Grand Slam shape and when she does; she is faced with antiquated policies by the WTA regarding pregnancy. Even when faced with the unnecessary roadblock of a poor maternity policy; and the everyday challenge of having a fulfilling professional and personal life, she rises to the challenge and inspires viewers to strive for greatness.
Each episode is about 30 minutes long, I recommend the series to get a behind-the-scenes look at the resiliency of one of the world’s greatest champions. You can watch it here.
Continue to follow her journey back to #1 and tune in to watch the French Open on Saturday, June 2nd.