Serena Williams is one of the greatest athletes in the world. She is also female.
In an open letter published by Porter magazine, the tennis superstar questions why the second part often seems to be added to the first part whenever the subject comes up.
“As we know, women have to break down many barriers on the road to success,” Williams wrote. “One of those barriers is the way we are constantly reminded we are not men, as if it is a flaw.
“People call me one of the ‘world’s greatest female athletes.’ Do they say LeBron is one of the world’s best male athletes? Is Tiger? Federer? Why not? They are certainly not female. We should never let this go unchallenged. We should always be judged by our achievements, not by our gender.”
Williams wrote the piece for the magazine’s Incredible Women of 2016 issue. She will be going for an Open-era record of 23 major singles championships when she plays in the Australian Open in January.
“When I was growing up, I had a dream. I’m sure you did, too,” she wrote. “My dream wasn’t like that of an average kid, my dream was to be the best tennis player in the world. Not the best ‘female’ tennis player in the world.”
Later in the letter she added: “It is my hope that my story, and yours, will inspire all young women out there to push for greatness and follow their dreams with steadfast resilience. We must continue to dream big, and in doing so, we empower the next generation of women to be just as bold in their pursuits.”