Updated: May 3
23 time Grand Slam champion Serena Williams is an icon of our times, she is a pioneer and influencer having moved the needle on so many issues, from body shamming and racism to gender equality. Read Merlisa Lawrence Corbett's complex biography ~ "Serena Williams Tennis Champion, Sports Legend and Cultural Heroine."
Merlisa Lawrence Corbett delves deep into the world of Serena Williams both on and off the tennis circuit, she gives us an in depth look at this remarkable woman, exploring everything from her upbringing to her highly successful tennis career. Merlisa provides us with a complete portrait of this living legend.
Lawrence Corbett is a renowned sports journalist with decades of experience, her articles have appeared in multiple press outlets including Sports Illustrated, Ebony, Essence, the Washington Examiner and currently contributes to Tennis View and Black Tennis magazines. Over the past two years Lawrence Corbett has been channeling her writing skills into her first book, Serena Williams: Tennis Champion, Sports Legend, and Cultural Heroine. We had the pleasure of sitting down with Ms. Lawrence Corbett in Winter Haven, Florida, for the launch of her book.
How did you end up doing a biography of Serena?
I wasn't planning on doing a Serena bio, I was already covering tennis as a journalist, when I was approached by a publisher who asked me to submit a proposal, they liked it and so I began writing it in 2017.
What made you choose to launch your book here in Winter Haven?
Well, I’m originally from Winter Haven. I’ve traveled a lot with my work, I was based in New York, Pittsburgh and then DC for about 18 years, but I wanted the book launch to be somewhere intimate. I love this place; I have my favorite table right over there; they have the best coffee and did a lot of my writing here.
You’ve been writing about sports for many years, is your biggest love for tennis and did you learn more about Serena while writing this biography?
I actually started out playing tennis but didn’t get serious about it until later in life. I’ve been following tennis since the 70’s and players come and go but Serena is such a compelling player and figure that transcends tennis. I wanted to take readers far beyond the tennis court because there is so much more to her life. What I was most surprised about was her digital activism. I was shocked how she gets rules changed; some athletes make a lot of noise, but nothing happens, but Serena affects change with almost immediate results.
Have you met Serena and were you intimidated writing about someone with such a large fan base?
Yes, I have met her, and I’ve interviewed her first coach when Serena moved to Florida, Polk County was the first place her family settled in, and I've interviewed her friends. No, I wasn’t daunted by it at all, I already knew a lot about her and focused on doing my research.
What do you hope the reader will be left with at the end of reading this biography?
The most important thing is that people know she is multi-faceted, she is super intelligent, proactive and also this is just the beginning for her. She promotes female owned businesses, she’s advocating for mom’s, I feel that we are only just seeing Serena, now that she has a 200-million-dollar net worth, she is really starting to have some impact. She has changed how people view mom’s, she has come back after having a baby and at 38 still ranks in the top 10 world tennis stars.
Will you be going on a book tour?
Yes, I'll be taking the book on tour to Atlanta, I'll doing radio shows and in the summer I'll be in DC for the National Association of Black Journalists.
We highly recommend this powerful biography of a women who has achieved so much both on and off the court, whether you are a tennis fan, or someone who loves a female driven success story, this one's for you!
Serena Williams: Tennis Champion, Sports Legend, and Cultural Heroine
Record-breaking, trendsetting, polarizing, and controversial, Serena Williams often sparks conversation and debate. The 23-time Grand Slam champion has a team, an entourage, celebrity groupies, and a band of fans who call themselves “Serena’s army.” When not winning titles, Williams finds time to run her own fashion line, endorse luxury and financial brands, and fund schools for girls in Africa and Jamaica. Serena Williams transcends sports. More than a biography, Serena Williams: Tennis Champion, Sports Legend, and Cultural Heroine not only tells the story of her upbringing and remarkable career but also looks at Williams as a sports pioneer. Merlisa Lawrence Corbett explores Williams’ influence on cultural and political issues such as body shaming, gender equality, and racism in sports and society. Corbett also analyzes Williams’ impact on discussions of feminism, the sports celebrity, and the marketing of female athletes. Williams is one of the most intriguing and influential figures in sports, and this book is the first to provide a fully rounded portrait of a tennis icon. Order your copy here.
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For more information about the author please visit Merlisa.com