Thank you is the simple message Serena Williams has for her mom.
The tennis champion has had to face cruel critics since she began her career as a teenager. Williams opens the letter describing how she doesn’t know how she’ll handle criticism aimed at her own child.
“I’ve been called man because I appeared outwardly strong. It has been said that that I use drugs (No, I have always had far too much integrity to behave dishonestly in order to gain an advantage),” she wrote. “It has been said I don’t belong in Women’s sports ― that I belong in Men’s ― because I look stronger than many other women do. (No, I just work hard and I was born with this badass body and proud of it).”
Somehow her mom found the strength to look past the hatred to help her daughter stand for empowerment and strength.
“But mom, I’m not sure how you did not go off on every single reporter, person, announcer and quite frankly, hater, who was too ignorant to understand the power of a black woman,” Williams continued. “I am proud we were able to show them what some women look like. We don’t all look the same. We are curvy, strong, muscular, tall, small, just to name a few, and all the same: we are women and proud!”
She credits her mom with helping her “endure all the hardships.”
Williams welcomed daughter Alexis Olympia, with Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian, on Sept. 1. She gave birth at St. Mary’s Medical Center in West Palm Beach, Florida, and shared the first photo of the adorable baby girl on Instagram last week.
“I think [giving birth] will give me more strength, if that’s possible, and a lot more confidence,” she told Australia’s Stellar magazine while pregnant. “I feel like I will be ready for anything.”
- This article originally appeared on HuffPost.