Serena Williams on Forgiving Her Haters: 'I Try to Be Christlike'

(Photo: Reuters/Shannon Stapleton)Tennis star Serena Williams

Iconic tennis star Serena Williams recently spoke about forgiveness and the importance of upholding her faith in the midst of her record-breaking career success.

The world's top-ranked player, widely dubbed "Queen of the court" in the media, has dominated the tennis world since she first went pro in 1995. Her impressively long list of achievements includes winning 34 grand slam titles, 13 Grand Slam doubles titles with Venus and four Olympic gold medals.

Williams, 33, said that while she relishes in success, it often comes at a price. She likened her struggles to that of Jesus but explained that she in no way compares herself to Christ.

"It's hard and lonely at the top," she said. "There are always people who aren't going to like you. Look at Jesus; there are people who didn't like him."

When asked whether she was directly comparing herself to Jesus she clarified, "Oh, God, no, I am far from it. As everyone knows. But as a Christian, I do try to be Christlike."

The 19-time Grand Slam winner returned to Indian Wells this month after a 14-year boycott only to withdraw from her semifinal match against World Number 3 Simona Halep on Friday, citing a knee injury. Ironically, her older sister Venus faced the same predicament back in 2001 prompting vicious boos and racist backlash from the crowd and the scene would trigger their 14-year boycott from the tournament.

In a recent interview with Vogue magazine, Williams shared how the late Nelson Mandela inspired her to find forgiveness more than a decade after the shocking incident. Nearly two years ago, while reading Mandela's autobiography, Long Walk to Freedom, she took time to reflect on Indian Wells, which was her first career win with Venus in a doubles match in 1997.

"That's when I realized I had to go back," Williams told the leading fashion publication. "I always talk about forgiveness, but I needed to actually show it. It was time to move on."

In Feb., the Tennis ace quoted scripture in a personal essay for TIME magazine, which addressed the Indian Wells drama.

"I was raised by my mom to love and forgive freely. 'When you stand praying, forgive whatever you have against anyone, so that your Father who is in the heavens may also forgive you' (Mark 11:25)," the tennis star wrote. "I have faith that fans at Indian Wells have grown with the game and know me better than they did in 2001. Indian Wells was a pivotal moment of my story, and I am a part of the tournament's story as well. Together we have a chance to write a different ending."