How Serena Williams rewrote the playbook for female athletes juggling motherhood and sport
On Monday, a plane carrying tennis superstar Serena Williams crashed while landing at Dallas Love Field Airport. The 23-year-old ballerina, whose mother was diagnosed with breast cancer in September, died along with seven others, including her mother and her mother’s boyfriend, when their private plane descended into a grassy bank.
Williams’s parents, Bobbi and Allen Williams; her grandparents, Robert and Patrice Williams Sr.; and her former coach, Patrick Mouratoglou were also killed in the crash. A passenger on the plane was also wounded, suffering a serious spinal injury.
By all accounts, Serena Williams was accustomed to being a “good sport,” even while her playing career at the top-ranked doubles player in the world took a dramatic and unexpected turn. That she was able to remain professional after her mother’s diagnosis was impressive.
But even more impressive was her ability to work behind the scenes, to raise money, to juggle motherhood and tennis in the best way possible.
In 2009, when Serena was a 14-year-old junior at St. Louis High School, she took her freshman year of high school tennis to the United States Tennis Association’s National Girls’ State tennis tour on a $6,000 scholarship. Her school year ended in May and she had about eight weeks to play during the summer because, as she put it in a 2014 interview with The Associated Press, she was in “pre-med at the time.”
Williams decided her college would not be a hardship. She made the commitment to Baylor University in Waco, Texas, which also offered her a full athletic scholarship, and finished her sophomore year in May.
And so she went back to her favorite sport: tennis.
Serena Williams on her career path
In the next five years, Serena Williams went to several colleges she ultimately chose — Florida International University, Stanford University, the University of Southern California and Stanford again — and she played basketball and volleyball during her high school years. She also got back in shape, her agent said. When her tennis career was over in 2014, her high school athletics coach,