Meeting a Champion
Leah Martin has always dreamed of meeting tennis superstar Serena Williams, but never believed it would actually happen.
But after she saw Wheaties’ sweepstakes with the chance to win a virtual meeting with Williams, Martin took her shot at the opportunity.
And she won!
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“I really couldn’t even believe it. I was like, ‘is this real?’” says Martin. “I’ve always wanted to meet Serena. I told my friends, you have a list of people you would like to meet, but you don’t really think it’s going to happen. I have a few people on that list. But if I could only choose one, it would have been Serena. So, for that to happen is mind-blowing.”
Leah grew up in Richmond, Virginia, and started playing tennis at the age of four – the same age Williams started playing – and continued her tennis career through high school.
Martin has attended two U.S. opens and has seen both Serena and her sister, Venus Williams, play live.
In her sweepstakes entry post, Martin wrote, “Although I never truly desired to go pro, I feel connected to Serena, seeing her excel in a sport that one could say was not made for us, whether it be because of historical country club restrictions or just the cost of the sport itself. Where I come from, we were like tennis nomads, traveling from public court to public court to practice in the blistering sun, while our counterparts learned in air-conditioned facilities. Watching Serena make history inspires me because I see that I can overcome any obstacle that could hinder my race to accomplish what I’ve set out to do. I can be the greatest at what I do even if the odds are stacked against me. More than an athlete, Serena is a mother, an entrepreneur, an activist & so much more… she is a voice that influences, impacts, & inspires. And I too have the ability to do the same.”
On the video call, Martin and Williams got to share their love for the sport, their faith, and the connection between Leah’s hometown and tennis legend, Arthur Ashe.
“We were talking about me being from Richmond, where Arthur Ashe is from, and how he made history,” says Martin. “And I was sharing with her about how, to me, his story and Serena’s story, though different, still have similarities in how they changed the sport and just changed people’s perceptions of stereotypes and what people are ‘supposed to be doing.’”
And when Williams was asked what most people don’t know about her, Martin was excited to learn they had another hobby in common – playing guitar.
“I was blown away because I play guitar too. We both pulled out our guitars, showing each other. I had no idea! So that was a really cool connection, too.”
Martin says Williams has inspired her to be herself and to do what she does well.
“She shared how when she was coming up training, she just wanted to win, she wasn’t really thinking about changing the world. She was just being herself,” says Martin. “I took that as a nugget because in this year, I’ve learned to just be myself… and when you’re just being yourself, you’re able to live out your purpose without worrying about what other people think.”
“It was an awesome opportunity. Thank you, Serena, thank you, Wheaties, thank you, God, thank you, everyone.”
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