Serena Williams is one of, if not the best, tennis player of all time, competing in tournaments worldwide. Fans and media were elated when, after winning the French Open, Williams gave her interviews in the country’s native language, but left many wondering, was it all just for show, or does Serena Williams actually speak French?
Serena Williams does speak French. The legendary tennis player learned how to speak French when she was a teenager, though few outside her inner circle knew of it until she won the French Open.
Read more about Serena Williams’ career, why she learned to speak French, and whether or not she’s a Francophile.
Serena Williams is an extraordinary athlete. As a tennis player, Williams has 23 Grand Slam singles titles to her name, is one of the highest-paid athletes in the world, and can be found at tournaments all across the globe.
Serena Williams, along with her older sister, Venus, began competing professionally as a teenager, after having trained for most of her childhood, with the Williams family moving around the country in order to pursue the girls’ talent and a career in the industry. All the lessons paid off, and both Williams sisters would go on to be formidable opponents on the court; however, in the midst of all the tennis training, Serena was also honing her language skills, learning to speak French.
Serena Slam and Roland-Garros
There are four major tournaments annually in the world of tennis: The U.S. Open, The Australian Open, Wimbledon, and The French Open. These are Grand Slam tournaments, and winning all four has become known as a “Serena Slam.”
The French Open, also known as the Roland-Garros, takes place over the course of two weeks every year in Paris. The event was established in 1891 and is famous for its clay courts, making it unique among the rest of the Grand Slam tennis tournaments.
Merci Beaucoup and a Nod to Her Heritage
Given how often Serena Williams wins these tournaments, it seems fitting that the tennis titan opted to learn French because she wanted to be able to converse fluently at her trophy ceremony at the French Open. Though Williams had learned French when she was a teenager, it was not until she won the French Open in 2013 that the world learned of her language skills.
You can see Serena Williams show off her French speaking skills after winning The French Open in the YouTube video below.
In fact, the tennis superstar was much more nervous about sharing her foreign language skills with the world than she was about the tournament itself, with Serena telling the press, “It’s way, way more nerve-racking than playing tennis.”
Not only that, but speaking French also paid homage to her ethnic heritage, with Williams telling The Fader, “One of the reasons I learned French was I wanted to win the French Open, and I wanted to speak French when I won. The second was because in most African countries, the main language outside of their local language is French or English. So I figured: I know English, maybe I can learn French.”
Paris Apartments and Olympia Ohanian
In addition to her love of the French language, Serena Williams also loves the culture of the country as well, and Williams bought an apartment in Paris off the Champ de Mars, near the famed Eiffel Tower. Though Williams did a bit of renovating, the apartment still boasts classic French architecture and is a place for the tennis pro and her family to stay when in the city, whether it be for personal or professional reasons.
Williams is also passing on her love of the French language to her daughter, Olympia. Serena took to Instagram to share a cute video of Olympia, 2, responding to Williams’ request to wash her hands in French, so it’s clear the love of the language will continue on in the Williams-Ohanian family.