In the world of news, this is no longer current especially with hurricanes and tornadoes showing their fury.
However what happened two weeks ago at the U.S. Open in my home state of New York still lingers in my mind and my heart.
Perhaps if I wasn’t a staunch feminist and if sexual harassment were not in the forefront of the cultural conversation, this wouldn’t be such a big deal. But it is for me.
I feel inspired to write a letter to Serena Williams, to thank her for 20-plus years of brilliance and power with a tennis racquet…but also to tell her what is in my heart about what happened in September 2018 at the Women’s Final that will now be part of her history. Not her legacy, but her history.
I met my wife in 1998.
Before I met Kathleen I had absolutely no interest in tennis.
However, she quickly got me hooked and I feel like the last 20 years has been a thrill ride because of so many of the tennis greats that we’ve had the fortune to witness, you being at the top of the list.
Kathleen and I watched you and your wonderful sister Venus compete in the finals at the U.S. Open in 2000.
There have been many amazing performers, artists and sports greats in my 55 years on earth and I have been inspired by the force of nature that you are.
That’s why it’s hard for me to write this letter to you.
I was a women’s studies major in college and am an ardent feminist. And while I want women to have their anger and to use anger to move them forward, I would be lying if I didn’t say that it doesn’t look good on anyone on a public stage — male or female — to be that full of rage.
So whether it’s Federer swearing and using the F word three times or you screaming at a referee, I just don’t want to see that from my role models.
And I know people will say tough shit, deal with it.
I get it.
But I just feel the need to let you know that I never would want your anger to let down a little girl who looks up to you.
I know better. She might not.
Serena, I wanted you to win at the US Open and get to 24 career grand slams (and beyond) and I really believe you will.
Having survived child abuse which led me to foster care I can say first hand that as powerful as I am, what appears to be uncontrollable anger scares me.
Again, I’m 55 and can handle it but I just want to say that not every little girl that’s going to see you on a public stage can.
I’ve had the pleasure of spending time with Dr. Maya Angelou two times in my life and she more than anyone on earth embodies power and grace.
I am not saying that I’ve got this down to a science because I too can overreact and use anger in ways I’m not proud of at all.
So this letter is as much for me as it is for you.
My goal as I navigate my way through this maze of life, as a woman, feminist, lesbian, child abuse survivor, former addict and body image coach is to carry on the grace and power that is represented by Dr. Angelou.
I believe your current mission and purpose like mine is equality for women. And I don’t believe we will get it through being pissed off.
More than anything I want people to not have any doubt that your intention – in addition to winning – was not to psyche out your opponent with your anger.
That is what my friends who were at the match, who support you thought, and while I am neutral on whether that is true or not, what I do not want is for you to give anyone reason to see you as anything but the champion you are.
And while I know, you cannot please everyone, I want your legacy to be laced with the power you put into every swing.
I hope you get to 24 very soon.
I’m rooting for you girl.
Laura Fenamore, Body Image Expert, Coach and acclaimed Author is on a mission to help women around the world end the constant battle with their bodies and start adoring who they see in the mirror. Her approach walks students and readers through the heartfelt journey to self-love at any size or age by unlocking the secrets to a lifetime of emotional, physical and spiritual health. After overcoming a lifelong battle with addiction, obesity, and eating disorders, Laura released 100 pounds – keeping it off for more than 28 years. She chronicles this journey to self-love and health in her widely acclaimed book, Skinny, Fat, Perfect: Love Who You See in the Mirror. Learn more about Laura’s programs, or invite her to speak by visiting SkinnyFatPertect.com.
Image courtesy of cnn.com.