Serena Williams is a badass. This is a well-established fact.

And 2015 has been a pretty amazing year for her. She won three Grand Slam titles, shut down body-shamers, pushed back against pushy reporters, got some major praise from one of tennis' greats, struck a powerful pose in a world-famous calendar, and deservedly took home Sports Illustrated's Sportsperson of the Year award.


Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images.

On Tuesday, Dec. 15, 2015, she gave one powerhouse of a speech at the Sportsperson of the Year awards ceremony.

It's the type of speech that'll inspire you to get up and start checking things off that long-neglected to-do list. It's the type of speech that sounds like it belongs in a commercial for something ungodly expensive. It's the type of speech that'll make you want to be a better you.

It's the type of speech that stresses the message that yes, sometimes things in life are stacked against you, but no, that doesn't mean you're doomed to failure. You, like Serena, can overcome.

GIFs from Sports Illustrated.

She's faced criticism for her looks, her gender, and her race — but she won't stand for it.

Earlier this year, The New York Times published an article focused on her looks.

And, not only that, some interviewed in the article even suggested that Williams, a very muscular 5'9", was somehow less a woman as a result of how she looks.


In her speech, she had a few things to say about that and about criticism she's received because she is a black woman.


She shut down doubters who underestimated her resolve and declared her career done-and-over years ago.

She's won 21 Grand Slam titles over 16 years (and she's quick to remind us all that she's not done). And at 34 years old — ancient in professional athlete years — she's still crushing the competition. Just three titles away from tying the all-time record, she's got a shot.

But perhaps the best part of Williams speech was her reading of Maya Angelou's "Still I Rise."

It's a powerful poem about overcoming society's expectations, about pushing back against oppression and succeeding in a world that wants nothing more than to see a black woman fail. The full poem, as read by Maya Angelou, can be found here.

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It is said that once you've seen something, you can't unsee it. This is exactly what is happening in America right now. We have collectively watched the pot of racial tension boil over after years of looking the other way, insisting that hot water doesn't exist, pretending not to notice the smoke billowing out from every direction.

Ignoring a problem doesn't make it go away—it prolongs resolution. There's a whole lot of harm to be remedied and damage to be repaired as a result of racial injustice, and it's up to all of us to figure out how to do that. Parents, in particular, are recognizing the importance of raising anti-racist children; if we are unable to completely eradicate racism, maybe the next generation will.

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Sounds simple, right?

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