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Serena Williams used her platform to send a resounding message about resilience based on her experiences as a Black female athlete.

In an open letter for Porter Magazine’s Incredible Women of 2016 issue, Williams said her fight to become the greatest tennis player in the world was strengthened by her family’s support and her unyielding dedication to perfecting her game.

“I learned not to be afraid. I learned how important it is to fight for a dream and, most importantly, to dream big. My fight began when I was three and I haven’t taken a break since,” Williams writes.

Williams goes on to point out that she refuses to let anyone define her through the lens of race or gender:

“But as we know, too often women are not supported enough or are discouraged from choosing their path. I hope together we can change that. For me, it was a question of resilience. What others marked as flaws or disadvantages about myself – my race, my gender – I embraced as fuel for my success. I never let anything or anyone define me or my potential. I controlled my future.”

Williams also takes on pay equality and points out the long embittered battle that for decades, women have been paid less than men for doing the “same work” and making “the same sacrifices” as male colleagues.

“I would never want my daughter to be paid less than my son for the same work. Nor would you,” Williams asserts.

For all of her success and accomplishments, there is one label Williams says she hopes to transcend––that of a “female” athlete, especially in comparison to male athletes who have also achieved success in sports.

“Do they say LeBron is one of the world’s best male athletes? Is Tiger? Federer? Why not? They are certainly not female. We should never let this go unchallenged. We should always be judged by our achievements, not by our gender,” Williams writes.

But Williams says now is the time to continue treading the worn path laid out by those who came before her, which in turn will embolden the young women of today.

“We must continue to dream big, and in doing so, we empower the next generation of women to be just as bold in their pursuits.”

Read the complete letter here.

SOURCE: The Guardian | PHOTO CREDIT: Getty

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