During an interview following her July 11 Wimbledon victory, a radiant Serena Williams pointed to the sky and declared: “I have to give thanks to Jehovah God for today. I just really relied on His strength.”
Religion News Service (RNS) had anticipated her words in the July 10 article, “Serena Williams' Secret Weapon: ‘Jehovah God.’” The story focused positively on the tennis star’s devotion and her views as a Jehovah’s Witness.
The piece stood in sharp contrast to the often derogatory media treatment of Christian athletes like Tim Tebow and Russell Wilson.
“For Williams,” Kimberly Winston of RNS wrote, “her faith is like a secret weapon, a stealthy supply of strength and perseverance that some observers say is as vital to her game as her 120 mph serve.”
Winston also cited William’s beliefs as it affects her reaction to difficulty and her competitive 2012 comeback. She quoted, Lee DelleMonache, director of the Neumann University Institute for Sport, Spirituality and Character Development, who said Williams “takes responsibility” and “stays true to her faith” when she “gets criticized or she curses on the court.” Williams has been known for being a sore loser, but according to DelleMonache, “she has called herself on that.”
“I think if you don’t believe in God, it’s going to be tough to live life because pretty much that’s the basis of life, it comes from God,” Williams said in a 2002 interview. “And so being a Jehovah’s Witness, obviously we believe in God and the Bible. And without Him, I wouldn’t be here right now. I really thank Him for everything.”
Williams certainly has reason to be especially grateful. With her Wimbledon triumph, the tennis pro achieved a “Serena Slam”—a string of four consecutive grand slam titles. If she wins the U.S. Open in the fall, she will be the fourth woman in history to earn what is called a “Calendar Slam.”