althea garrison

Serena Williams | The Meaning of Serena Williams, photographed by Christopher Griffith for New York Times: US Open 2015 Issue (x)

‘‘We have to be thankful, and we also have to be positive about it so the next black person can be No. 1 on that list,’’ she told me. ‘‘Maybe it was not meant to be me. Maybe it’s meant to be the next person to be amazing, and I’m just opening the door. Zina Garrison, Althea Gibson, Arthur Ashe and Venus opened so many doors for me. I’m just opening the next door for the next person.’’

"The Meaning of Serena Williams" to me & others

It was joyous to see the beautiful face of Serena Williams on the cover of the New York Times magazine, and to read the thoughtful article that followed.

I was moved by her fierce discipline, the genuine brilliance of her smile, the powerful fire in her eyes, but more than anything, I was moved by Serena’s grace. In addition to saying, “I play for me, but I also play and represent something much greater than me,” she points out that great athletes like Zina Garrison, Althea Gibson & Arthur Ashe opened the door for her and her victories are opening the door for others.

We still live in a world where Serena Williams, despite being the better-performing athlete, isn’t the top paid athlete.

“If they want to market someone who is white and blond, that’s their choice,” Serena is quoted as saying, “I’m happy for (Maria Sharapova), because she worked hard, too. There is enough at the table for everyone.”

My father used to say the same thing, and I agree, there is enough at the table for everyone. If only it was fairly distributed. I want Serena to win, but for me, in the most important way, she already has.