Serena Williams opens up over her struggles with body confidence when she was growing up

Serena Williams opens up over her struggles with body confidence when she was growing up

Serena Williams has achieved an incredible amount during her career. The four-time Olympic gold medallist holds the record for the most Grand Slam titles in singles, doubles and mixed doubles, and even managed to take the 2017 Australian Open title while pregnant.

Things aren't slowing down lately, either. Recently she featured on the front cover of Harper's Bazaar, with two cover shots to her name. In the accompanying interview, Serena described how her aim now is to beat Margaret Court's record of 24 Grand Slam singles titles, yet still asks "why limit myself to 25?"

In this interview, which is part of the magazine's 'power of women' issue, she opened up about her struggles with her body growing up, and how she would compare herself to her sisters. It wasn't easy for Serena during her ascension to fame and fortune, as she received a huge amount of criticism from others due to her appearance.

There have been numerous websites that have insisted she was assigned male at birth, and comments made about Serena and her sister by the head of the Russian Tennis Federation in 2014 didn't help. "It's scary when you really look at them," Shamil Tarpischev said, referring to Serena and her sister Venus as the "Williams brothers". For his remarks, Tarpischev was later suspended for a year and fined by the WTA.

The tennis star explained how exactly this kind of response to her image made her feel at the time:

"It was hard for me. 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, but, you know, it was just totally different."

Back in 2004, it was noted by one journalist that a 22-year-old Serena Williams had a list of goals she had written for herself. Alongside wanting to win the Italian and French Opens and Wimbledon, she wrote that she hoped to get down to a size four.

This seems ridiculous to the sportswoman by now, as she has become far more comfortable in her own body:

"Oh God, I’ll never be a size 4! Why would I want to do that, and be that?

"But I love that I said that, because I can understand. I can show Olympia 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."

For those that want to find out more about her life, there's actually going to be a HBO documentary series about what is likely the most tumultuous year of Serena's life - in which she gave birth to her daughter, Olympia, and got married to Alexis Ohanian, the co-founder of the site Reddit.