Serena Williams on going for gold, body confidence and being a role model

2016 has been the summer of Serena Williams: her Wimbledon win, the Olympics and the U.S. Open, where she will be going for a record-breaking 23rd Grand Slam title. This September, as she turns 35—well past the age of many of her competitors—Williams is the number-one ranked women’s player in the world. She opens up to SELF about the challenges she has overcome to get here—and what it will take to stay at the top of her game.

On focusing on her next big win:

“This is my blood. I live for this and have for the last 32 years. When I step out on the court, you’re going to get all of me.”

“It’s always been, like, bring it on—and more.”

On the future:

“In five years, I’m on a boat or an island, sketching the latest collection. Maybe there’s a baby, maybe a couple, we’ll see. I’m done traveling—I’m throwing away my passport. Yeah, I’m done with it.”

Her take on negative criticism about her appearance:

“I love my body, and I would never change anything about it. I’m not asking you to like my body. I’m just asking you to let me be me. Because I’m going to influence a girl who does look like me, and I want her to feel good about herself.”

On paving the way for younger African-American athletes:

“I can’t say I am the pioneer because it was Althea Gibson, it was Zina Garrison, it was Arthur Ashe, it was so many people before me. [But] I appreciate being in a position where I was chosen to be a role model. Obviously, being black in tennis wasn’t easy, even in the 90s.”

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