Serena Williams wrote a stirring tribute to fellow four-time Olympic gold medalist Simone Biles for the 2021 Time 100.

The annual list celebrates the most influential people of the year, and the combination of Biles’ athletic excellence and refreshing candor on mental health made her an obvious candidate.

“What she embodies truly reflects the endless potential of Black women,” wrote Williams. “I wish I had her to look up to when I was younger and trying to realize my dreams.”


Biles, who has long named Williams among her childhood idols, opted against defending the All-Around title she earned at the 2016 Rio Olympics, citing physical and mental health issues that kept her from competing at her best.

When Williams’ young daughter Alexis Olympia made her first steps into gymnastics back in 2019, she gave Biles a shoutout, hoping she can one day take a lesson from “one of the most decorated American gymnasts of all time.” The two both appeared earlier this week at the Met Gala in New York City.

“By living her truth so loudly and by championing mental health, she is setting new standards of beauty, strength and resilience, breaking down today’s image-obsessed stereotypes and encouraging others to do the same,” Williams concludes in her essay. “Simone is a shining example of what success looks like when you let go of what the world thinks and gather your strength from yourself … from your soul.”

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