Tag Archives: athletics

Serena Williams Is ‘Working It’ in Vogue

25 Mar

serenaI remember one Saturday morning in high school, I turned on my television to see a black girl with braids playing tennis. I’d heard of Althea Gibson, but her heyday was way before my arrival on earth. This was a girl who looked about my age volleying a tennis ball back and forth on a court with a white girl—and the black girl was winning! I was stunned because the little I knew about tennis was that it was a sport for the wealthy. In my mind, back then, I couldn’t fathom how wealthy a black person could be in order to afford the sport of tennis.

Then the commentators began talking about the girl, who’s name on the scoreboard was “V. Williams.” The spoke about how she was new to professional tennis. How she plays differently than anything they’d seen before. And how she was coached by her father on the cracked tennis courts near their home in Compton. Compton! What the hell? This was another ghetto girl like myself who was doing the damn thing in her field. She was unstoppable.

Until little sis began to dominate.

“V. Williams” is the older sister to S. Williams, or just plain Serena. Though plain would be a misnomer now because that other little ghetto girl is now on the cover of Vogue magazine for its shape issue. And Serena is killing another game: the fashion game.

I’ve admired the Williams sisters for years, but I’ve had a special affinity for Serena. Like the super athlete, I am a dark-complexioned girl with large breasts and a large butt. My thighs are thick. My calves are shapely. And I have to make the best of what I’ve got.

I know I’m know Serena. She is in amazing physical shape. But she overcame serious blood clot to return to peak form and completely dominate her field. That’s why I took away a few pieces of advice from her cover profile in Vogue.

On the off season. Like all of us, Serena puts on winter weight. It’s cold, Winter Boo has you hemmed up with snuggles and peanut butter, and the snow won’t let you be great. “I should have gone on a diet weeks ago,” she moans. Maybe, but that doesn’t mean you can’t start now. Serena is in training for the upcoming Grand Slam tournaments, which will require peak physical ability to withstand the endless matches and rigorous schedule. If you’re like me and not participating in a Grand Slam match, look at this time of year as spring cleaning. After the coldest winter ever*, bring some heat back into your life with a few resp at the gym. Put down the endless bowls of chili and try a salad or three. It’s too late to regret how this winter ruined your routine. Just get back to doing what you feel is right, and you’ll be fine.

Be the change you want to see. Before the Williams sisters took over the professional women’s tennis courts, the game had the same pallette. Lots of women in similar skirts and tops, similar haircuts, and similar intensity on the court. No one had heard grunts like those of the Williams sisters before. Those grunts came from using so much strength and power to defeat an opponent. “When I started out, it was about being consistent and steady,” said Mary Joe Fernandez, captain of the American Fed Cup team. “When they started hitting with so much power, everybody had to change their game too.” You can be a game changer, too. You can decide that maybe running or swimming isn’t doing enough for you. Maybe you want to try Caipoeira or kickboxing. Do it! There’s nothing stopping you from change but you.

Know that there’s always something better. “I feel like I have a desire to be better than ever,” Serena says. “I am never, ever, satisfied. I always want to do more, be more, reach a new level. Not just in tennis but in everything I do.” When I began my weight-loss journey from 200 pounds, I thought the most I’d lose is 20 pounds. And those 20 were great. They got me into my first bathing suit in years. They allowed me to buy shorts that didn’t cut off my circulation. They let my jaw be visible again. But soon I realized I wanted more. How far could this weight-loss journey take me, I thought. So I kept trying, running more, spinning more, cooking my own meals more. It’s all about deciding how much you want for yourself.

What did you think of Serena’s cover? Did you take away any words of wisdom from the article?

Girls Can Play Baseball

22 Aug

moneI grew up around boys: one older cousin, my brother and two younger cousins. Add to that my father and his five brothers and you have a girl surrounded by testosterone.

My brother, cousins and I would play the typical childhood games: tag, hide and go seek, etc. But mostly we spent our time in our grandparents’ basement wrestling. Let me rephrase: they spent most of their time in our grandparents’ basement wrestling. I was relegated to ring girl.

“Why can’t I wrestle?,” I would ask.

“Because you’re a girl,” one of the boys would reply

“But there are girl wrestlers.”

“We don’t have anyone to wrestle with you. Just sit over there and look cute.”

And sit I would—until I got bored and told an adult they wouldn’t let me play. The options were either I play or nobody plays. I like to think that’s the way Mo’ne Davis is looking at her competitors.

Mo’ne, the Little League World Series pitching phenomenon, has taken the country by storm with her tremendous athleticism. I can’t help but look with awe and admiration as she continues to kill the game.

Let’s run down the laurels: the first girl to pitch a shutout in Little League postseason history with a 70-mph fastball; the first girl to win a series game with her pitching prowess; and the first Little League player to grace the cover of Sports Illustrated. While the rest of the world is having a crappy August, Mo’ne is shutting stuff down—literally.

Mo’ne is an amazing pitcher, not just for a girl, but because she just is. And she knows it.

“I throw my curve ball like Clayton Kershaw and my fast ball like Mo’ne Davis,” she told a reporter.

To have that kind of confidence under all the media attention added on top of the pressure of leading your team through the Little League World Series is astounding. We could all take a page from Mo’ne as we continue our journeys toward a healthy lifestyle.

This 5-foot-4, 100-pound 13 year old has been playing sports practically forever. She’s not just an awesome pitcher, she plays basketball and soccer. She challenges herself to do more, even with continuing pressure mounting up. For baseball players under the age of 13, this is as big as it gets. And Mo’ne is ready for it.

We can all challenge ourselves to do more and try harder, even when it seems like we can’t. We can take comfort in the fact that if we fail, we at least tried. We can learn from the things that tripped us up so that we can continue doing better.

Mo’ne has had to deal with hecklers in the stands who wondered what a girl was doing on the baseball field. (She’s only the 4th American girl to play in the Little League World Series since the competition began in 1947.) But instead of allowing that negativity into her head, she focused on her game.

You can do the same. Do a mental vs. physical check. Understand the difference between what your mind is telling you vs. what your body is telling you. The challenge will be completely worth it.

Mo’ne has done some excellent work for herself, her team and the Little League. However, she won’t continue to play in the tournament as her team lost on Thursday night. But we all know this isn’t the end of her. Basketball season is still coming up!

photo courtesy of Sports Illustrated