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Serena Williams Harper's Bazaar Swimsuit Shoot: I Wanted to Be Like Venus Growing Up

Serena Williams in Harper's Bazaar: I Wanted Venus's Body

Serena Williams is definitely on cloud nine. The tennis star won her 13th grand slam title this weekend at Wimbledon, where she defeated Vera Zvonareva 6-3, 6-2. She's also looking positively glamorous (and noticeably leaner — she dropped from a size 12 to a 10) in the August issue of Harper's Bazaar that both she and sister Venus shot a fashion spread for. Serena shares with Harper's Bazaar how she toned down her once bulky frame, and that she hasn't always loved her body. Today, she says, it's all OK: "Since I don't look like every other girl, it takes a while to be okay with that. To be different. But different is good."

Here are the highlights:

  • On getting lean: "I wanted to get really fit. I wanted to lose some weight. So I've been doing Pilates and yoga, trying to lean out my body so I won’t be bulky . . . a couple of hours of hitting, then an hour or two of cardio and strengthening in the gym . . . It's working. Pilates gave me results within a week.”
  • On her diet: "I don't even know the D word . . . Smaller portions of every meal, a lot of grilled or baked chicken or fish, and steamed veggies. [But] I can never turn down a good piece of cherry pie, but all I know is that in 10 years, I don't want to be as wide as this couch."

To see pictures of Serena and Venus from the Harper's Bazaar fashion shoot, and to find out why Serena doesn't like her arms,


  • On not loving her arms: "When I was six or seven in a swimsuit — I look back at those picture, and my arms are cut and my legs are strong. I didn't realize that I was really fit and most people aren't. To this day, I don't love my arms. People want more fit arms, but my arms are too fit. But I'm not complaining. They pay my bills."
  • On once wishing she looked liked Venus: "I was 23 when I realized that I wasn't Venus. She's totally different. I'm super-curvy. I have big boobs and this massive butt. She's tall and she's like a model and she fits everything. I was growing up, wanting to be her, wanting to look like her, and I was always fitting in her clothes, but then one day I couldn't. But it's fine. Now I'm obviously good, but it's a weird thing."





sunshinetax sunshinetax 7 years
I really respect both of these amazing athletes. Serena and Venus have grown up to become such successful, graceful, powerful and beautiful women. True role models for so many women, and men too! I played tennis in college and I know what Serena is talking about. Nothing wrong with being ripped, but I felt better when I was a little bit leaner.
chloe-bella chloe-bella 7 years
I agree with the last few commenters. I gain muscle in my legs/butt very easily, and it can be really annoying. I had to buy two sets of work skirts and pants - a set in a larger size for when I'm marathon training and running over 25 miles per week, and a set for when I'm not marathon training and running less than 25 miles per week. I know that being bulky isn't anything to be ashamed of, but the fact of the matter is that it can be demoralizing. For example, I went to put on a dress to go to a wedding last weekend, and I couldn't get it over my thighs, even though the same dress fit perfectly just a few months ago. So if your judging someone for saying they wish they had less muscle mass, chances are it's because you have never been in that position.
Chelsea25 Chelsea25 7 years
I agree with the last comment. I'm a little tired of people acting like not wanting to be 'bulky' is such a terrible thing. Obviously theres a limit to how 'bulky' a woman can get but every body is different and we all have different tastes. Theres no right or wrong here. Its a choice. If she wants what she considers a more lean physique, then why not?! When my shoulders and arms got a bit too big for my liking, I changed up my workout a little. Not for anyone else, for myself. This is why there are so many types of exercise out there. We are all looking to gain different benefits from them. And she is still playing great tennis and winning tournaments and happier with the way she looks. In my book thats a great result!
Sinnamon-Jones Sinnamon-Jones 7 years
I think Serena has always looked good. But I do have to disagree with the above commenters. I struggle with the same thing that Serena does... We all want to look feminine and comfortable in our bodies. I've always carried a lot of muscle mass and I gain it pretty quickly. I'm not saying that muscles aren't feminine, cause they are, but when I look in the mirror, I don't want to look at my upper body and feel like "dang, my arms are huge" or "wow, look at those shoulders". I mean a lot of it is pressure to conform to the "ideal body", particularly african american women, slim upper body, thick thighs and hips. Was I rambling? Didn't mean to..
Spectra Spectra 7 years
It makes me sad that male athletes are never criticized for having too many muscles or for being big, especially if their muscles give them extra power for their sport. But if any woman gets "bulky" or "too buff", it's like they feel the need to slim down for the public. Serena looks good; who CARES if her muscles are big?
itsallabouttheg itsallabouttheg 7 years
i'm not a fan of b-word either, but it certainly doesn't appear that serena is wanting for muscle mass. i don't really follow tennis, but i <3 these two!
deanna024 deanna024 7 years
Does it trouble anyone else that one of the top female athletes felt she needed to slim down so that she wouldn't be "so bulky?" It sounds like she was losing muscle with her plan, not fat. Be strong and be proud, Serena!
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