It’s hard to believe Serena Williams has been in the spotlight for over two decades, but on October 28, 1995, the tennis champ stepped on the court for her first professional match. While we’re used to watching Queen Serena dominate her opponents, her first time was quite different.
“I was scared. I was not prepared for the stage. But determined I went on. Butterflies consumed my stomach leaving no space for me to eat to prepare for my match,” Williams recalled in an Instagram post marking the occasion. “Less than an hour later I left the court devastated in defeat.”
Williams lost the match to Annie Miller, 6-1, 6-1, and remembered, “Not only did I look like a novice but I looked like I did not belong anywhere on the court.”
Earlier this year, Miller, now Annie Borus, recalled the scene in an interview with ESPN.
“It was her first [pro match] and despite the fact that she was so athletic and going to be a great player, it was a lot of pressure. At the time, Venus was the one everyone talked about,” she said. “I have two young daughters and I understand, the little one can be in the shadow. I imagine it was a tough situation.”
Despite her stinging defeat, Williams didn’t let it stop her.
Born with an innate insatiable desire to never quit I knew I would return. I would come back. I could not predict that I would win 21 Grand Slam titles and be number one in the world even 20 years later, but I did predict I would never give up. And I did not.
At 34, Williams is older than most of her competitors but she’s still the best in the world. Over the years she’s battled the press attempting to knock her down, racially charged incidents both on and off the court, and a career-threatening illness. Still, Williams has continued to outwork and outplay everyone in the world.
While Williams could have used the moment of reflection to brag about her accomplishments, she instead decided to share some awesome advice with her fans: don’t ever give up.
Now I tell you this: never give up on your dreams. It may not happen when you want it to but one day your knight in shining armor (your dream) will come true if you keep going. I leave you with this. Be positive. Be kind. And above all be humble.
We will, Queen Serena. We will.