In honor of International Women’s Day, Serena Williams wrote an inspiring piece for Fortune magazine that touches on everything from impossible standards of womanhood to mom guilt, to workplace double standards.
Serena called the day a “call to action,” and opened up about her own challenging experiences with balancing her career with motherhood, and emboldening others to support one another.
Serena wrote, “Even with all the resources I’m incredibly blessed to have, motherhood comes with so many unexpected challenges, especially when it’s time to go back to work.”
The 37-year-old superstar also explained that as a board member of SurveyMonkey, she set out to learn more about the hurdles working mothers face. She found the data showed that "women are four times more likely to say they provide more childcare than their male partner – pulling a double shift at work and home."
Serena, who gave birth to daughter Alexis Olympia Ohanian Jr. in 2017, relates to those who sacrifice their professional life for their family. She revealed, “More than half of moms feel guilty leaving their children to go to work, and a third say their job makes it challenging to do the things they want and need to do for their family. Forget the cliché of ‘having it all,’ the reality is, women are trying to do it all.”
Serena hopes that her honesty about her particular struggles will help others know they aren’t the only ones facing hardships. “I’m honest about my struggles as a working mom, because I want other women out there to know they are not alone.”
In addition to talking about her dream of playing tennis long enough for Olympia to watch her, Serena spoke about the unrealistic idea of “perfection.”
“I want to make it clear that perfection is an impossible goal and should never be a true pursuit in life. And this is something I’ve had to come to terms with myself,” Serena added, admitting that she’s shed tears over losing time with her daughter. She also discussed the “double standards” women face in the workplace, saying she was “penalized” after taking time off.
Serena encourages women to lift each other up. “Let’s promise to come together and support one another in honor of all the groundbreaking women who came before us – and those who are proudly following our lead.”
What do you think of Serena’s essay? Do you relate?