New mum and tennis great Serena Williams has posted a heartfelt letter to her mother.
Williams shared the letter on Reddit, a website founded by her fiance Alexis Ohanian. The pair are celebrating the recent birth of daughter Alexis.
Williams, who has won 23 grand slam titles, writes about the difficulty of growing up as a muscular black woman and how her mother has been a role model throughout her life.
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," the letter begins.
"I've been called man because I appeared outwardly strong. 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).
"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," Williams continues.
"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 are so classy, I only wish I could take your lead. 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. I hope to teach my baby Alexis Olympia the same, and have the same fortitude you have had.
"Promise me, Mom, that you will continue to help. I'm not sure if I am as meek and strong as you are yet. I hope to get there one day. I love you dearly.
Your youngest of five,
The tennis star announced via social media last that she gave birth to a girl named Alexis Olympia Ohanian Jr.
Williams wrote Wednesday that their daughter was born on Sept. 1 and weighed 6 pounds, 14 ounces. One posting also says about the newborn, "Grand Slam Titles: 1."
Williams won her 23rd Grand Slam singles championship at the Australian Open in January - while she was pregnant.
She has not competed anywhere since but has said she intends to return to competition by next year's Australian Open, which starts on Jan. 15, 4½ months after her baby was born.
"If she's ready, she'll play. If she's not, she won't play. I'm not a doctor. I can't decide when she's going to be ready to practice. If we can have enough practice so she can be ready, she'll play," Patrick Mouratoglou, Williams' coach, said last weekend at the U.S. Open.
"I don't want her to go compete if she's not ready," Mouratoglou said. "I told her: 'You come if you're ready.' And I will do everything for her to be ready for Australia. But if she is not ready, of course she won't compete."