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on 19 March 2014
The Williams' sister story is exemplary. Their father was not rich, he did not know how to play tennis and the two sisters were not even born. Yet he imagined a plan where he will have two more girls who will become tennis world number one. He wrote it and implemented it.
I thoroughly enjoyed the book and I marveled at this incredible story of faith. I also enjoyed peering inside Serena Williams' psyche and drive. In this book, this is what I have learned about motivation:

1. Plan, set your goals and work intensely at convincing yourself:

Serena Williams use all techniques available like affirmations or visualizations. She forces herself to think positively and avoid negative feelings.
She shares the contents of numerous post-its she sticks on her tennis bag. One of them reads: "Be positive. Have only positivity going through your body. Be the best. Being the best starts by acting like U R the best. Believing U R the best. Becoming the best. Believe. Become. "

She also writes: "I kept telling and telling myself until I finally believed it."

2. Master "doublethink":

In a tennis game, there is only one winner. Yet, at the highest level, it is likely that both players have worked on their belief system and conditioned themselves to win. How do you continue to believe while reality clashes with your beliefs ? In his book "Bounce", Matthew Syed introduces the concept of "doublethink" or "the power of holding two contradictory beliefs in one's mind simultaneously, and accepting both of them." He explains that "top performers have taught themselves to ratchet up their optimism at the point of performance, to mould the evidence to fit their beliefs rather than the other way around." In other words, on the court, you need to believe wholeheartedly that you will win. In training, you need to look at your game with lucidity to improve any weaknesses.

3. Ground yourself:

It is not a secret that Serena Williams benefits from a supporting family base. Reading Serena's biography, it goes even further. At important time in her life, she found motivation in a higher purpose. She relates her trip to West Africa and her visits of the slave castles. "I came away thinking I was part of the strongest race in human history". And follows a new post-it: "Just do it. U want / NEED to win. Nothing is too hard for U. Nothing is too tough for U. It's U and only U !!! U R part of the strongest people alive. Nothing is worse than what your grandparents and great-grandparents went through. Nothing is more difficult. Nothing. Get up, get out and make yourself / your people happy and proud !"

4. Welcome difficulties:

Serena seems to thrive on challenges. She uses past failures to re-energize herself.
Serena Williams used all the negativity at the Australian open in 2009 to fuel her will to win. "The real push came from taking all those negatives and mashing them together into a great big positive. I put in my head that I would not be beaten down. By my critics. By my peers. By my sponsors. By my opponents. Together, it became my silent fuel, to power me through these next paces. I would not be dismissed. I would prove everyone wrong, and in so doing I would prove something to myself."
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on 6 October 2009
Determination, determination and determination. These three words come off each and every page of Serena Williams' autobiography titled `On the line'. The autobiography is an honest account of Serena's journey, from her humble beginnings as a three year old struggling to grip a standard sized tennis racquet on the Compton tennis courts, to her triumph as an eleven times Grand Slam winning tennis icon.

The youngest of five children, Serena grew up along with her other sisters in Compton in Los Angeles. Her father Richard and her mother Oracene were hardworking African Americans who had a desire to make a better life for their children. Serena's journey to the game of tennis began three years before her birth. In 1978, after watching the French Open champion Virginia Ruzici collect a cheque of $40,000, Richard Williams, who was surprised at the amount of prize money, became determined that he would produce daughters that would become global tennis icons.

The Serena story is incomplete without discussion of her relationship with her sister and tennis double partner Venus, who she describes as her best friend. Serena writes that in spite of her family's belief in her capability during her formative years, outsiders, including players and the media, focused their attention on Venus. As a result Serena lived under Venus' shadow for a long time. However, the underestimation of her abilities only motivated Serena to prove her detractors wrong.

In spite of the one year and three months age difference between the two sisters, Serena describes Venus as being very protective of her. Besides seeing Venus as a protector, Serena also sees Venus as a motivator. If there is one defining characteristic that defines Serena, it is her resilience in the midst of adversity. For instance, during the final of the Indiana Wells tournament, despite being jeered by a hostile crowd throughout the match, Serena was able to overcome their verbal taunts to win the championship.

When her boyfriend jilted her in 2002 she felt dejected. However, rather than play the sympathy card, she channeled her energy into her game, which resulted in her achieving her legendary Serena Slam between 2002 and 2003, winning the French, Wimbledon, US and Australian Championships in succession.

The loss of Serena's sister Yetunde, coupled with a career threatening injury, resulted in a lack of motivation to play the game of tennis, culminating in a spate of inconsistent results between 2004 and 2006.

After entering the tennis wilderness for the first time in her career, Serena experienced a Damascus Road encounter during a trip to West Africa in November 2006. Like Obama, Mohammed Ali, Martin Luther King and Malcolm X before her, the visit to Africa enabled her to appreciate her heritage. Since the trip her career has continued on an upward trajectory both on and off the court.

What lessons do we learn from Serena? First, the road to success is often marked with sweat, blood and tears. Second, focus and determination are key ingredients to success.
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on 19 February 2016
One of a kind....great insight to the greatest woman tennis player of all time...that what John McEnroe thinks and I think he knows what he's talking about
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on 13 August 2015
What an insight to life on the tennis circuit. There has been many struggles and still Serena has prevailed. Love love it! What an inspiration
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on 13 December 2010
I dont usually like auto biographies all that much, I find them rather boring if I am honest. However I am a huge tennis fan and a huge fan of Serena so I felt compelled to read it, and I was certainly right to. It is one of those books you never want to put down, right from the beginnig I was hooked,the writing style the way she lets you in right from the start.

Serena is so open and honest, and you really get a sense of her character and what she is like as a person not just a player. Her personality shines through on every page. I learned so much about her, it really makes you feel like your getting to know who she really is, and thats not always easy to achive. She really lets the reader into her thoughts and feelings on and off the court, things you will never learn from post match interviews.

She covers alot in the book from family life, her relationship with Venus, the road to sucess, her sister Tundes tragic death and so on, alongside laying to rest some nasty rumours, which I thought was good as the Williams family have endured their fair share unwarrented critisims (to put it diplomatically).

I always liked Serena and this book has reinforced how fabulous she is. She comes across as sweet, funny, real, determined, and vulnerable to all the same things we all are, which really makes the reader connected. I would recommend this book to everyone not just tennis fans. She's a true champion and inspiration.
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TOP 1000 REVIEWERon 1 November 2009
What a great little book this is - with the reader gleaning much of interest about Serena the tennis player and Serena the 'celebrity'. What emerges is a driven lady, desperate to prove herself - to her dad, her sister and to her fellow pros. Okay, Serena will never make President of the US, but her colourful life story is genuinely interesting and is laid bare for the reader in all its naked splendour.
Her well documented problems off the tennis court get an airing, with the death of her sister being one of the most emotive and moving parts of the book. It is difficult not to empathise with Serena, her warm, sensitive character shining through on every page. Certainly, the reader is left with a level of respect for her hard work and all-consuming passion to make number one in the world - an inspirational story that deserves to be read and copied by those lacking her own determination. One thing is certain, Serena has a whole host of varied interests for the reader to learn about - not to mention her penchant for fashion wear. For me she is also an important icon, as her success shows that 'larger' ladies can look attractive - with the classical barbie look a welcome thing of the past. May I also point you in the direction of another book about a 'Queen' who has managed to make something of her life: One Love Two Colours: The Unlikely Marriage of a Punk Rocker and His African Queen by Margaret Oshindele-Smith - no tennis but an interesting book nonetheless - and yes, Serena does get a mention in it!
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on 26 October 2015
An insight into serena and the williams family. Look forward to more writing from her as she matures.
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on 16 April 2010
An excellent co-written autobiography which dispels many of the disgusting stories that have been circulated, ie that matches were fixed and that Mr. Williams dictated who was to do what. There is no doubt about Serena and Venus's highly competitive but very loving relationship with each other. This is not a shallow book but comes across as an honest account of Serena's life, growing up from humble but educated roots. Her father was a great mentor and influencer but one does not feel that he dominated any of his children against their wishes. I found the book very moving.
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on 18 May 2015
Everything about Serena is inspirational ...
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on 6 April 2015
Enjoyed rreading this book.
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