Over the course of Serena Williams' remarkable career, she's, unfortunately, faced a ton of body-shaming. In her cover interview for the July issue of U.K's Harper's Bazaar, the tennis champion opened up about how that experience made her feel, and shared some powerful words for those who have called her "manly."
"It was hard for me," Williams said. "People would say I was born a guy, all because of my arms, or because I'm strong. I was different to Venus: she was thin and tall and beautiful, and I am strong and muscular—and beautiful," she said of her sister. "But, you know, it was just totally different."
The profile also referenced a time in 2004 when Williams was, according to the writer, "unable completely to withstand the societal pressure to shrink," setting a goal of being a size 4 just beneath winning the Italian and French Opens and Wimbledon. Looking back, Williams hopes that her words will serve as a teaching moment for her daughter, Olympia.
"Oh God, I’ll never be a size 4! Why would I want to do that, and be that? This is me, and this is my weapon and machine," she said while pointing to her biceps. "But I love that I said that, because I can understand. I can show Olympia [her daughter] that I struggled, but now I'm happy with who I am and what I am and what I look like. Olympia was born and she had my arms, and instead of being sad and fearful about what people would say about her, I was just so happy."
You can read her inspiring profile in full, here.