Serena Williams on Body Positivity, Motherhood, and Beauty


The Championships - Wimbledon 2018

Getty ImagesTim Clayton – Corbis

Serena Williams hears a lot of noise. Yes, thousands of fans gather to cheer her on at her tennis matches, but we’re not talking that type of noise. For every championship won, Williams has endured sexism, racism and criticism of her body: “I was constantly told I was too muscular, or I wasn’t pretty enough to be a tennis player,” she wrote in an essay on Reddit in 2017but her confidence has never wavered.

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The tennis star makes it a point to embrace her natural beauty and has long been an advocate for women on and off the court, which is why she’s now backing shaving startup, Billie. Earlier in June, the company’s Project Body Hair campaign went viral for tackling the once-traditional beauty taboo by putting female body hair on full display.

Billie believes women shouldn’t have to pay more than men for grooming products and launched a subscription service that offers women shaving and body care products for an affordable price, fighting against the “pink tax”—and Williams, the brand’s new investor, is here for it.

“I’m proud to become an investor in Billie, an inclusive female body brand that’s raising awareness and tackling this inequity head on,” Williams told ELLE.com. “The shaving industry is dominated by male brands which have traditionally overcharged and underserved women. I’m thrilled to be part of a company that’s putting women first.”

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Ahead, we speak more with the tennis legend about confidence, and how motherhood changed her approach to beauty.

What about Billie’s mission spoke to you that pushed you to get involved with the brand?

The brand is so real about body hair. When it comes to women, shaving is a big part of our daily routine, and Billie understands we don’t just wake up hairless. It’s something we have to make time for and prioritize on our end. Billie understands our needs and is committed to painting an authentic picture that resonates with women. Beyond its thoughtful campaign approach, Billie is an inclusive female body brand that is raising awareness around gender inequality across the shaving industry and tackling the “Pink Tax” head on.

What are some of your own grooming habits?

I have many. I think self-care is very important to prioritize in life. When you make time for yourself, you feel like the best version of you and that extends into other facets of life. My self-care routine varies— whether I’m trying a new product or staying loyal to my feel-good classics like coconut oil, I always carve out moments to tend to myself and nurture my body.

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Women are often shamed for their body hair, among other things. As a female athlete in the public eye, how has your relationship with your body changed over time?

It’s changed significantly over the years. I was constantly told I was too muscular, or I wasn’t pretty enough to be a tennis player. I learned to ignore the negativity and look inwards to truly love myself. I realized I was in control of my feelings and focused on rising above the negative chatter and the unrealistic societal ideals placed on me. I love who I am… I love my body, my skin, my confidence and I fully embrace everything about me.

I read an essay you wrote on Reddit where you addressed being body shamed and expressed fear your daughter may be subject to the same negativity you experienced. How did you learn to be comfortable in your own skin?

My mom was always really big on learning to love yourself. Plus, when you enable negativity in your life, it’s bound to take over. I don’t have time for that mindset. I have championships to win, a beautiful daughter to raise, an amazing husband to love, a fashion line to design, philanthropic work to do, boards to advise on, and family and friends to spend time with. Now, my philosophy is, “If you don’t like the way I look, so what?” I love the way I look and the way I feel. Beauty comes from the inside out.

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What’s your secret for building confidence?

My secret to confidence is trusting myself and not letting the opinions of others define my self-esteem. Beyond that, I am so fortunate to have a loving family who keeps me strong when I need it most. And, the support and encouragement of my fans is something that I hold very dear and drives me every day.

I love who I am… I love my body, my skin, my confidence and I fully embrace everything about me.

As a new mother, in what ways has your beauty regimen evolved?

Since becoming a mother, I’ve put more focus on ensuring the products I use are natural, clean and safe. I’ve also found ways to simplify some of the routines I had before and make my process a little easier to squeeze in. The time I spend with my daughter is so special to me and so, when it comes to my beauty regimen, I don’t let that get in the way.

What are some of the tried-and-true products that you absolutely can’t be without?

I love coconut oil. I use it for everything and I swear by it. I also enjoy products that are specifically designed for women with my type of skin and hair. But, I also love trying new things. Health and beauty products are constantly evolving, and I really enjoy experimenting and seeing what else is out there.



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