Serena Williams is in a New York state of mind and "cannot wait" for the 2020 U.S. Open, but there is so much more to Serena than tennis
Serena Williams is in a New York state of mind.
History awaits the American superstar at the 2020 U.S. Open, but for her life has been about much more than just tennis for many years already.
In 1999 she became the first ever black woman in the Open era to win a Grand Slam singles title, and the first black woman since Althea Gibson in 1958.
Then she was 17, now she's 38.
And while the world around her has changed so much, she still has that same fire on the court and has become an agent of change off it.
"Today it's not about me and my career... more what I do off the court," she says to Bryan Stevenson, a prominent lawyer and social justice activist, on 'Serena Saturdays' - her weekly Instagram live spot where she interviews people from all walks of life.
"Life is so much bigger than hitting balls in a box" - Serena Williams
Williams' tennis has done the talking for her on the court throughout her career, and now she's growing ever more vocal on important issues in society.
With her 20m+ social media following this megastar is using her platform for good.
Whatever happens in New York at the U.S. Open, it will be a celebration of an iconic career that changed a sport and so much more.
Much talk before the rescheduled U.S. Open, which is now set to run from Monday, 24 August to Sunday, 13 September, is about how Serena has had the new surface installed at her home.
The court at the Arthur Ashe stadium will be changed from DecoTurf to Laykold for the first time since 1978 and Serena will practise on the surface at home before the U.S. Open, which some say is an unfair advantage.
But no rules have been broken and it wouldn't be the first time Serena has overcome controversy or played in courts of public opinion.
"I've gone through a lot in my career and my life," Serena tells Stevenson.
"I've played not only against my opponent, I've played against crowds, I've played against fans... Obviously I've been able to have a tremendous amount of more fans and it's been a wonderful experience but I worked really hard to get to this experience."
"I go through my life learning to learn" - Serena Williams
"One thing that I do love and I do enjoy is hope," says Serena, "and no matter how much good we do there is always so much more to be done"
Serena has won 23 Grand Slam titles across an iconoclastic career, and should she win her 24th at the U.S. Open in New York, then it would draw her level with Margaret Court's all-time record.
But Serena says there's no comparison to her struggle in what she calls the "predominantly white" world of tennis.
"The fact that I'm still compared to someone who, of course I respect, but I'm compared to people that really haven't played under the circumstances I had to play under," says Serena.
Serena feels her tennis game is underappreciated.
"Tennis is a mental game, and black people are athletic, so whenever I would win it's like, I'm so athletic.. no actually I use my brains a lot more than I get credit for, I really use my brain a lot out on the court. The most powerful players don't win 23 Grand Slams!"
Serena and her older sister Venus have 30 Grand Slam singles titles between them.
Their famous sister act has been a tremendous inspiration for many people around the globe opening the door for another generation to come behind them.
"And that's where we are, we want to inspire people," Serena continues.
"Because like I said at the end of the day we were and are and always have been grateful for everything that we had, and we have and we still have, I'm still training so much and so many hours a day.
"But that is what's most important to us is that, ok, for someone else it's going to be easier for them, and today it's not about me and my career, for me more what I do off the court, tennis is like this for me [Makes a 'tiny' gesture with two fingers] and life is so much bigger than hitting balls in a box."