From the Super Bowl to Watermark: Serena Williams on Making the First Move

2019 Keynote Speaker Serena Williams“Making the first move is, for me, so important because I feel like women are generally taught that we don’t have to make the first move,” Serena Williams said to the thousands of women gathered for the 2019 Watermark Conference for Women.

“It could be in dating, it could be in life, it could be in business—but it’s important to take a jump, take a leap, because it can make a difference.”

With 23 Grand Slam singles titles, Williams is one of the greatest athletes, male or female, in history. She’s also a successful entrepreneur, philanthropist, women’s advocate and a new mom.

She spoke with Whitney Wolfe Herd, founder and CEO of Bumble, which launched the Ball is in Her Court campaign during the Super Bowl—featuring Serena talking about making the first move—on the main stage.

Here are some highlights:

On believing in yourself

“It’s so important to believe in yourself. …Everyone says it but to actually do it is different because a lot of times we might feel hesitant. And I have to tell you during every single match I go out to play, there’s a moment when I think: I’m not sure if I’m going to win today. But, that’s OK. I take those thoughts, and I throw them away because I don’t want them with me.”

Staying positive

“There are times where I’m on the court, and I’m thinking: OK, gosh, I’m up 4-2 but if I lose this game, I can potentially be down 5-4, and I literally will ask myself in that moment: Why did I go there? Why don’t I think I can be up 5-2?”

“For me,” she added, “it’s really important to always just know and realize that ‘stay-in- the-positive place.’ It’s not easy, and it’s not going to happen 100 percent of the time. But if you’re conscious of it, that makes a huge difference.”

Being a better you

“It’s really important to just be able to accept who you are and want to be better. Be a better you not a better someone else. That’s what I want to do. Every day I’m learning different lessons about how I can be a better me. Some cases are more, you know, public than others, but I’m still working on it.”

Partnering with men, and across races, for equality

“I’m one of those people who really believe in order for women to get to the next level, we need the support of our men – and the races. We have to come together.”

Williams, who is on the board of SurveyMonkey, also shared findings from a recent survey on women’s experience in the workforce:

  • Nearly half of women surveyed say they have sacrificed career and family goals.
  • 93 percent who find it extremely or very important to have balance between work and family have not yet found it.
  • Nearly 1 in 3 women feel they have to hide their emotions at work.
  • 84 percent of women think it’s crucial for other women to support their work

Watch a clip of Serena Williams, and listen to all the breakout sessions, at the 2019 Watermark Conference for Women here.


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