Intended to be a celebration of a 24th Grand Slam title, and a much-publicized comeback after the birth of her daughter, Serena Williams dominated the US Open final. This time she did not leave with the Championship title, but she did something much bigger! Serena took a stand against sexism, after being wrongfully accused of a coaching violation.
I watched the video as Serena was nearly brought to tears, defending herself and claiming, “Every time I play here, I have problems!” Serena went back and forth with the umpire, telling him that he owed her an apology and that she’d never cheat! She further went on to talk about how men had done much worse (than call the umpire a thief) and were not penalized at all. She didn’t back down, even after the referee didn’t agree with her, she stood her ground against what she believed was right, saying “I don’t cheat to win, I’d rather lose.” Overshadowing the win of 20 year-old Naomi Osaka, Serena did what many women are often afraid to do – take a stand!
I was moved emotionally because it made me think a lot about being a woman, a black woman, and how are emotions are so often misconstrued. It also brought to the forefront, the double standard where women who are emotional are viewed as weak, or uncontrolled, but an emotional man is considered outspoken and his actions are often overlooked. Why is this? In an earlier blog, I discussed my experiences with how expressing oneself as black woman is viewed in the workplace.
Finally, I was most moved by Serena explaining to the umpire that she would never cheat, as she had a daughter! It made me ask myself if and how I take a stand for my child. How do I as a mother, stand up in a way that gives light to integrity and great character overall? Surely, it’s not by teaching her that she can’t be emotional, nor is it showing her that winning is worth her integrity. As moms, our actions are worth some extra thought and consideration. Not only must we uphold ourselves to be full of integrity, but we must teach out children that character comes before competition.
In the book, “The Conscious Parent”, one point Dr. Shelfali Tsabary makes is that we often think of parenthood as a hierarchical role, where we are above our children, because we created them. He further stresses, that once we lose the idea that we are above our children, it is then that we understand that parenthood is the opportunity to learn from our children as they learn from us. We are given the opportunity to be better based on what we learn from role as a parent, and the child is made better from what we teach them.
In Serena’s case, her acknowledgement of how her behavior could impact her daughter made me further understand, good or bad, my behavior is not justifiable with the thought that “I’m grown”, or just because I’m the parent. Instead, how I behave should and will be a direct reflection of the character and qualities I instill in my child, because rather I like it not, she’s learning from me.