Icons Leave Legacy


Hanna Asmerom, Web Editor + Social Media Editor

With 858 tour victories, 73 singles titles, one Olympic gold medal and 319 weeks at No.1, Serena Williams has smashed records all over the world. Now, her star-studded career is finally coming to an end. Similarly, track veteran Allyson Felix, after winning 11 Olympic medals, has wrapped up her momentous career.

In 1995, at age 14, Serena Williams made her way onto the world stage, and in 2004, teenager Allyson Felix burst into the national and international scene as a young Olympian. Both athletes were incredibly successful, but they were young, black female athletes and faced challenges throughout their careers. 

“Allyson has really inspired me to keep going even when I’m tired or unmotivated,” junior track athlete Alyssa Anderson said.

Sophomore tennis player Rayna Li said Williams’ accomplishments keep her going in hard times.

Their retirement marks the end of an era and makes way for new talents to surface. The athletes’ legacy, however, is still pushing the next generation.

“I would like to go pro and having Serena to look up to really inspires me,” Li said.

Beyond the social struggles, Williams encountered pushback for her muscular build. When she was playing in the early 2000s, petite figures were trending, and she would often be told she looked like a man. These comments often discouraged her and made her uncomfortable. 

“I think that in my life I have encountered situations where I don’t fit in, but Serena reminds me that if you’re doing something different you’re making a difference,”  World Languages Department Chair and national padel tennis player Alejandra Suarez said.

Both athletes challenged the stereotype that mothers can’t be successful athletes. After having her daughter in 2018, Felix spoke about the life-threatening complications she faced during pregnancy. She also publicly talks about how she was denied support from her professional partners throughout her recovery and her return to the track. Despite the adversity, she still managed to win two Olympic medals after giving birth. 

“To see Allyson’s longevity throughout her career inspired me when I was a college athlete and also now as a mom and a woman of color,” said Adaku Ebeniro, health and physical education teacher and forme

r collegiate athlete

At the end of this era of inspiring female athletes lie two lesser known athletes. Sue Bird and Sylvia Fowles, Women’s National Basketball Association players, have overcome many challenges in their careers as people of color and as women in a male-dominated sport. 

All of these athletes have blazed trails and persevered through challenges to reach the highest pinnacle of success, and their story reminds others that victory comes only through hard work.

“Looking at these athletes’ legacy reminds me that I can do anything, no matter what comes my way,” Li said.