Serena Williams’s Face Is Like a Photo

CNN interviewed Serena Williams when she was 9. Here’s what she said.

On a recent episode of “The Daily Show,” correspondent Jia Tolentino did an experiment: She told Williams to choose a “beautiful girl” and ask her to send her a photo, because she was too young at the time to have a Twitter. Williams was surprised that the girl, who identified herself only as “Bree,” asked: “Do I look like Serena?” “I would be like, ‘Weird, who is this?’” she said, laughing. “I was like, ‘Can you tell me your name?’”

Williams was a child prodigy at the time, and has said she remembers the photo in question as if it were from a past century. With a face so well-defined, so young and intense, she was immediately like a photograph someone had taken of her — a girl who didn’t know she was on camera. It was a photo, she says now, made from a long string of emotions: “I was so scared, my little heart was beating and I was so nervous.”

When Williams went to school, she was in the second half of an exchange program in Costa Rica. Her mother, Serena James, had taken the summer off, and her father, Charles Williams, was working as director of the soccer stadium in Houston, where the Williamses lived. In the photo, Serena wears a white T-shirt, with the logo of the team: a star surrounded by concentric circles. To the right of her head, there’s a large, square, yellow tag. “I’d be like, ‘How did you find out about this?’” Williams said. “You know, she was just like, ‘Oh, we were in the photo. We’re going to send it, I’ll do it.’”

The photos, of course, were on Twitter.

Leave a Comment