Why Serena Williams’ Heroes in Life ‘Changed’ After Motherhood

Being a tennis superstar and a mom at the same time is more than a Herculean task, even if that metaphor has a male connotation. For a woman, it’s not usually recognized enough when dealing with a busy career and having children.

It had to take Serena Williams to broach the subject and make it clear how big of a job this is. When interviewed recently by Anna Wintour during New York Fashion Week, Williams gave a shoutout to women who’ve had kids. Being a mother herself now, she notes the heroes she once worshiped changed from the typical.

Who does she look up to now? For those who support the direction of women in the world and realize how much they’ve gone through, Williams’ comments were more than a little refreshing.

Serena Williams’ heroes are no longer sports icons

Serena Williams attends Glamour's 2017 Women of The Year Awards
Serena Williams | Bryan Bedder/Getty Images for Glamour

No doubt most of Williams’ heroes before becoming a mother were women who happened to be tennis greats. How could she not be influenced by tennis legends like Ora Washington, Althea Gibson, or Zina Garrison? These African-American women changed the game of tennis forever by breaking near impossible racial barriers.

Once Williams became a mother in 2017, her opinions shifted on who were the real heroes of the world. She told Wintour above that mothers, in general, became her personal heroes. This is mostly because they still go unsung on how much they have to deal with to keep going.

There was a clear distinction made between working mothers and those who can afford to take time off. Williams noted the disparity, hence her heroes being the women who don’t have the luxury to take maternity leave from their jobs. Those who have to go back to a 9 to 5 job after having a child face the most grueling schedule anyone can have.

Recognizing mothers who have to leave their children to maintain a career

One thing Williams noted about all working mothers is most have to leave their children during the day (or sometimes longer) to keep their jobs going. Anyone who’s grown up at daycare centers or with a nanny knows what it’s like to have to be away from their moms for a full day, if not longer.

Some mothers haven’t had a chance to spend any quality time with their kids until they retire. That seems cruelly unfair when thought about a little deeper.

No doubt many fans of Williams find it eye-opening to see her understand what it’s like for middle-class families in a time when wealth in sports divides from reality. Regardless, she does understand what it’s like to have to be away from her own daughter.

Will working moms finally be recognized more in a time when it’s challenging for working moms to enjoy paid maternity leave in every state?

Serena Williams could become an advocate for more laws in helping working moms

Thus far, the federal Family and Medical Leave Act only provide 12 weeks of time off without pay to the mother. Many have tried to stand up for a more fair bill in providing a paid maternity leave scenario for America’s moms.

Only four states in the U.S. offer paid maternity leave, with New York recently joining the fray. Let’s hope Serena Williams will fight for more measures like this after opening up about her support of working mothers.

Considering even her sister, Venus, is in awe of Serena and in how she’s working as a mom, it’s clear the latter has become her own hero. From all indications, she intends to make sure more women in similar situations are recognized more often after joining The Mom Project.