Serena Williams is letting everyone see her true self. In her powerful cover story for Harper’s Bazaar’s August issue, the pro tennis player poses completely unretouched (yes, unretouched). The stunning pictures complement her revealing personal essay, where she details last year’s controversial match against fellow tennis player Naomi Osaka. If you don’t recall, this is the U.S. Open match where Serena continually got violations for standing up to the umpire and ultimately lost the game. In her own words, she describes the conflict she felt and the resolution she reached from the help of the women around her, including her one-year-old daughter Olympia.
In her essay, she describes the incident with great detail. “It’s the final of the US Open, and I’m competing to win my 24th Grand Slam against Naomi Osaka. It’s the beginning of the second set, and the umpire thinks he spots my coach signaling me from the stands. He issues a violation—a warning. I approach him and emphatically state the truth: that I wasn’t looking at my coach. “I don’t cheat to win. I’d rather lose,” I said. I walk back to the court and lose the next point. I smash my racket in frustration,” she writes. “I tell him he is penalizing me for being a woman. He responds by issuing a third violation and takes a game from me.”
“I’ve been called every name in the book. I’ve been shamed because of my body shape. I’ve been paid unequally because of my sex. I’ve been penalized a game in the final of a Major because I expressed my opinion or grunted too loudly… But then I think of the next girl who is going to come along who looks like me and I hope, ‘Maybe, just maybe, my voice will her” Serena Williams said.