Jump to Main ContentJump to Primary Navigation

“For all the ladies out there, yes we can do it”: watch Serena Williams' inspiring Sportsperson of the Year acceptance speech

Serena Williams .jpg

In 2015, Serena Williams has won Wimbledon, the Australian Open and the French Open, so it’s safe to say it’s been a pretty successful year for the tennis player. And this hasn’t gone unnoticed, as last week she picked up the award of Sportsperson on the Year 2015 from Sports Illustrated.

Not only was Serena the first woman in 32 years (32 years!) to be awarded the title from the magazine, she was the first black woman to ever have received the accolade.

The award ceremony took place in New York, and Williams was presented the award by none other than her sister and fellow tennis player, Venus Williams, who she competed with and beat during the US Open semi-finals this year too.

Her acceptance speech was not only inspiring, but reminded us all of how hard she’s worked to overcome obstacles and achieve the success she enjoys today, and what a truly worthy winner she is.

Serena Williams poses for 2016 Pirelli Calendar

Serena Williams poses for 2016 Pirelli Calendar (Photo: Annie Leibovitz)

She said:

“I would really like to thanks Sports Illustrated for recognising me not just for sportswoman, but for sports person.

“I’ve had people look down on me. I’ve had people put me down because I didn’t look like them - I look stronger. I’ve had people look past me because of the colour of my skin. I’ve had people overlook me because I was a woman. I had critics say I will never win another grand slam when I was only at number seven and now here I stand today with 21 grand slam titles and I’m still going.

“For all the ladies out there, yes we can do it. My hope by winning this award [is that I] can inspire many, many, many more women... to stand right here on this podium and accept another ‘Sportsperson of the Year,’ so yes ladies it can be done.”

Watch the full speech here:

As well as her incredible career success in 2015, Williams has had an impactful year off the court, too. 

The 34-year-old has been very present and vocal in her support of the #BlackLivesMatter movement, reminding everyone of the need to speak up and work together against inequality.

In November she told Wired Magazine:

 “I’m a Black woman, and I am in a sport that wasn’t really meant for Black people… So to those of you involved in equality movements like Black Lives Matter, I say this: Keep it up. Don’t let those trolls stop you.... To other people, I say: When someone’s harassing someone else, speak up!”

She also – with the help one of her own childhood heroes J.K. Rowling – made a solid stand against body shamers in 2015.  After J.K Rowling tweeted her support for Williams, and a troll responded by saying “ironic then that main reason for her success is that she is built like a man”, Rowling shut them down with a picture of Williams looking phenomenal in a red dress. And in an interview with Good Morning America, Williams said:

“I've been like this my whole life, and I embrace me and I love how I look. I love that I am a full woman, and I'm strong and I'm powerful and I'm beautiful at the same time. And there's nothing wrong with that…I just don't have time to be brought down. I have too many things to do, you know. I have Grand Slams to win. I have people to inspire. And that's what I'm here for.”



Women of Wimbledon

Screen Shot 2015-12-23 at 09.41.08.png

The new bob: the haircut that's taking over the celeb world


2016 Pirelli calendar to celebrate powerful women

serena williams press conference.jpg

“Why aren't you smiling?” watch Serena Williams' brilliant response

JK Rowling.jpg

J.K. Rowling responds to bodyshaming troll in the perfect way


The best A-list Instagrams of the week


The top 15 feminist hashtags of 2015


Now you can learn stiletto self defence



A cast member has confirmed this Gilmore Girls fan theory

Had you noticed?

by Amy Swales
24 Oct 2016

Emma Stone has some thoughts on Hollywood’s “insane” gender pay gap

“We should all be treated fairly and paid fairly.”

by Moya Crockett
24 Oct 2016

Girl on the Train star forced to lose weight for previous role

“I was emaciated”

by Sarah Biddlecombe
24 Oct 2016

Jennifer Lawrence to play Zelda Fitzgerald in new biopic

The original Daisy Buchanan is getting her own star-studded movie

by Kayleigh Dray
24 Oct 2016

How to be a nasty woman: Stylist's 9 step guide

A must-read for all women considering themselves 'good girls'

by Harriet Hall
21 Oct 2016

Totally fetch: Rachel McAdams is on board with a Mean Girls reunion

Shut up.

by Moya Crockett
21 Oct 2016

“Criminalising purchase would be a danger to sex workers”

...argues sex worker and activist, Molly Smith

by The Stylist web team
20 Oct 2016

Eyebrows ahoy... A Cara Delevingne documentary is on its way

The Cara Project will follow Delevingne’s transition from model to actress.

by Moya Crockett
20 Oct 2016

The best A-list Instagrams of the week so far

From Emily Ratajkowski's team colours to Mindy Kaling's scarlet style

by Nicola Colyer
20 Oct 2016

Hilary Swank wins Oscars, still offered 5% of a male co-star's wage

Because woman < man

by Amy Swales
20 Oct 2016