Tennis superstar, working mother and fashion entrepreneur Serena Williams has some advice for women: Take charge and “make the first move.”
That’s from Williams’ commercial for Bumble, a women-run dating, networking and friend-making app, that this week livened up an otherwise tedious Super Bowl. In the spot, Williams argues that women shouldn’t wait for good things to come to them. “If I had waited to be invited in, I never would have stood out,” she says in the ad. “If I waited for change to happen, I never would have made a difference.”
Williams has said she wants women to feel empowered to find their voices and use the power within to create change. And it’s certainly advice that has served Williams well. It was a go-getter mentality — combined with decades of grueling work and heaps of talent, of course — that got her to the top of her sport.
More recently, since becoming a mom, she’s helped create change for female athletes hoping to start families. When Williams took time off in the spring of 2017 after giving birth to her daughter, Alexis Olympia, she fell in the official rankings of women tennis players — from #1 to #451. The extreme dip caused an uproar, and led to accusations that the move penalized Williams for having a baby. So late last year, the Women’s Tennis Association announced that players who take leave for pregnancy, illness or injury will have their rankings frozen.
Williams is happy about the decision, but pointed out that “unfortunately, it takes someone that’s in my position for it to happen to, then things can change” to video news outlet NowThis.
Today, she is thriving as she continues to dominate the tennis court — and the magazine stand. Williams’ story shows us why it’s important to take charge and stay the course. And you don’t have to be the GOAT to do it. There are plenty of examples of less-famous entrepreneurs creating the change they want to see.
For instance, we wrote about Priscilla Debar, who founded online sustainable fashion boutique Faubourg in 2017 and who prominently features women of color on her company’s site. She told us it’s an intentional effort to change the “humongous lack of representation” in eco-friendly fashion.
“We’re talking about the future of the planet — there shouldn’t only be one type of beauty represented,” she says. So rather than wait for the tide to turn, she’s doing her part to shift the narrative herself.
It’s an example that plenty of women entrepreneurs may want to follow.