After giving birth to her baby girl, Alexis Olympia, earlier this month, Serena Williams wrote an emotional open letter to her mother, Oracene Price, on Reddit this week to thank her for being the role model she always "needed."
"You are so classy, I only wish I could take your lead," Williams wrote. "I am trying, though, and God is not done with me yet. I have a LONG way to go, but thank you."
"Thank you for being the role model I needed to endure all the hardships that I now regard as a challenges – ones that I enjoy," she continued. "I hope to teach my baby Alexis Olympia the same, and have the same fortitude you have had."
Williams addresses body shamers at one point in the letter as well, talking about how she has been called a man at times throughout her career and has been accused of doping because of her physique. Many believe it's her response to Maria Sharapova, who said Williams has "thick arms and thick legs" and is "so intimidating and strong" in her recently released book.
Williams also appears to take a dig at Sharapova by saying she has always had "far too much integrity" to "behave dishonestly." Sharapova was banned for 15 months for failing a drug test on March 7th, 2016. She was controversially granted a wildcard at the U.S. Open, where she made it to the fourth round before being eliminated by Anastasija Sevastova.
"I've been called man because I appeared outwardly strong," Williams wrote. "It has been said that that I use drugs (No, I have always had far too much integrity to behave dishonestly in order to gain an advantage). It has been said I don't belong in Women's sports – that I belong in Men's – because I look stronger than many other women do. (No, I just work hard and I was born with this badass body and proud of it)."
Dear Mom, You are one of the strongest women I know. I was looking at my daughter (OMG, yes, I have a daughter 😳) and she has my arms and legs! My exact same strong, muscular, powerful, sensational arms and body. I don't know how I would react if she has to go through what I've gone through since I was a 15 year old and even to this day.... Read the rest on my @Reddit profile. Link in bio.
"But mom, I'm not sure how you did not go off on every single reporter, person, announcer and quite frankly, hater, who was too ignorant to understand the power of a black woman. I am proud we were able to show them what some women look like. We don't all look the same. We are curvy, strong, muscular, tall, small, just to name a few, and all the same: we are women and proud!"
You can read the entirety of Williams' letter here.