Even Serena Williams Is Sometimes Insecure About Making the First Move in Her Life

You'd think making the first move would come easy to Serena Williams, one of the most successful athletes of all time. But even with all her accomplishments, the tennis legend admits that advocating for herself is sometimes difficult.

"I mean, 80 percent [to] 90 percent of the time, I feel insecure about making the first move," Williams tells Glamour in an interview for her new campaign with Bumble, "The Ball Is in Her Court," which encourages women to do just that: make the first move. "[Women have] kind of been trained to feel like we shouldn't make the first move, whether it's in love or whether it's asking for a promotion or asking to be in the forefront. But now we're retraining our minds and saying it's OK to make the first move."

Bumble will run a 30-second spot for "The Ball Is in Her Court" during the first quarter of the Super Bowl on Sunday night. It focuses on Williams' tennis career, which started because she put herself in the game. "If I waited to be invited in, I never would've stood out," she says in the spot over a montage of her tennis clips . "If I waited for change to happen, I never would've made a difference."

This partnership is a dream come true for Bumble founder and CEO Whitney Wolfe Herd, who tells us an early vision board for the company included Williams. "At the beginning of Bumble, everyone said, 'Women don't make the first move. Why would you ever start a company that would encourage women to speak first? That's not how nature works,'" Wolfe Herd tells Glamour. "And so, in an effort to try to normalize that, I went to the tennis court, and I texted our very early team and said, 'If we work really, really hard and prove that the ball is always in our court on Bumble, maybe one day Serena would want to attach herself and be a partner with us.'"

Wolfe Herd's and Williams' successes didn't come without setbacks, though. In fact, that's a key takeaway from this campaign: Women shouldn't be afraid of the outcome when making the first move. Just do it. Both Wolfe Herd and Williams embrace this mind-set.

"Failure's great," Williams says. "I don't like the word failure because I feel like it should mean try. It just didn't work out this time, but it'll work out next time. When I first started my fashion brand—I've been doing it for years—and the first times it wasn't successful. And now we're making big moves."

Adds Wolfe Herd, "There's so much power in having the opportunity to fail. I think [failure] has a really bad rap sometimes, because the fact that you got out there and tried something and did something—that's better than never doing anything at all, right?"

So how does Williams bounce back? Or even just motivate herself on an off day, the kind of morning when it's hard to get out of bed? She remembers why she stepped out on a tennis court in the first place. "In my career, in particular, the thing that drives me is my desire to be the best and my desire to win," she says. "And I know I'm not gonna do it in bed."

Williams also hopes to impart this "make the first move" mentality on her daughter, Alexis Olympia Ohanian, Jr. "Everything Bumble is doing is not only good for me, but it's just good for women in general and the population," she says. "It's teaching a new generation of women. It's retraining a new generation, and my daughter is a part of that. So I'm excited to show her this campaign one day, to show her the messaging, to show her the app, and show her how she can do so many different things. And she can tell her friends. It's literally retraining the new generation. It's literally what we're doing here—and it's huge."

Published at Fri, 01 Feb 2019 22:00:00 +0000