Tennis star Serena Williams understands better than anybody how racism often underscores the negative criticism that repeatedly threatens to overshadow her athletic and cultural domination. She addressed the body-shaming idiocy in ESPN’s December 18 conversation with rapper and actor (and former partner) Common.

“I guess [the critics] couldn’t relate to me because I’m Black, I’m strong, I’m tall, I’m powerful and I’m confident,” Williams said in “The Undefeated In-Depth: Serena with Common.” ”But I can’t let that influence me or bring me down in any way. And yeah, there was a time I didn’t feel incredibly comfortable about my body because I felt like I was too strong. And then I had to take a second and think, ‘Well, who says I’m too strong?’ This body has enabled me to be the greatest player that I can be.”

The conversation was intercut with shots of Common talking about his new racial justice-oriented album, ”Black America Again.” In one segment, he discussed celebrities’ responsibility to affect positive change. “It’s the Muhammad Ali philosophy, that it’s bigger than just us,” he said. “And the athlete and the artist, we have to take it upon ourselves to be the ones who can also aid in that, and connect the dots—meaning, whether it’s resources we can bring [people] to, opportunities we can bring them to, exposure—that’s our duty, to uplift the communities.”

Williams also addressed her enduring pride in her Blackness:

Like that poem that Maya Angelou said, that we are the hope and the dream of a slave. If you think about what the slave had to go through, and then the life that we are privileged to live—I wouldn’t want to be any other color. There’s no other race, to me, that has such a tough history for hundreds and hundreds of years. …Only the strong survive, so we were the strongest and the most mentally tough, and I’m really proud to wear this color every single day of my life. 

Watch the full interview above, courtesy of ESPN’s race-focused publication “The Undefeated.”

(H/t Hip Hop DX)