Serena Williams' Genius Secret to Staying Positive

October 29th 2015

Taylor Bell

On her road to success Serena Williams has faced challenges on and off the tennis court, but part of her secret in overcoming a defeatist attitude is using positive messages as passwords to unlock her personal devices.

Serena Williams competing

“I started using affirmations as the passwords to my phone and my computer,” Williams said in a piece for Wired magazine. “You’ll be surprised how many times a day you log in and have an opportunity to trigger that positivity. I love that I can use technology that way.”

But creating positive affirmations is not something new for Williams. According to Wired, when she was younger she repeatedly recited, “I will work in Africa and help kids and help people.” Williams made that affirmation a reality, forming the Serena Williams Foundation that dedicates its resources to funding and building schools in Africa.

Positive affirmations also played a role in helping Williams mentally survive the U.S Open in 2008.

"When I was competing in the U.S Open, I would keep little 'match books,' where I'd write affirmations to myself and read them during matches," Williams said. "It worked out pretty well." Williams went on to reclaim her No. 1 ranking in the tennis world that year and secure her third U.S. Open title.

Serena Williams celebrates after winning Olympic gold medalReinforcing positive thoughts in one’s own mind is the paradigm for one of the best-selling self-help books, "The Secret." The 2006 bestseller argues that the “secret” to a more fulfilling life is training the mind to envision success, and by doing so, you will undoubtedly attract success. (The book was endorsed by Oprah Winfrey, however it was questioned by others.) A similar strategy has played a part in Williams' ability to overcome and face challenges in her own life.

Related: The Tweet That Perfectly Summarizes The Problem With Talking About Serena Williams' Body

Along with her sister Venus, Williams had a humble upbringing in one of the poorer communities in Los Angeles. She survived discrimination and racism as one of the few Black athletes in the tennis world. And more recently, the 34-year-old faced criticism about what some called her “manly” physique in a New York Times article. Despite her struggles, she is one of the highest paid athletes in the world, earning over 20 million dollars in 2015, according to Forbes.

Related: Serena Williams Has A Powerful Message About Her Endorsement Gap With Maria Sharapova

As much as Williams has conquered in her personal and professional life, Williams still feels that there is much for her to conquer socially, including creating more opportunities for minorities in the world of technology.

“In the NFL they have something called the Rooney Rule,” Williams said. “It says that teams have to interview minority candidates for senior jobs. It’s a rule that companies in the Silicon Valley are starting to follow, and that’s great. But we need to see more women and people of different color and nationalities in tech.”

Opening doors for minorities may take more than positive affirmations but if there is anyone who has had success using positivity to her advantage, it’s four-time Olympic gold medalist, Serena Williams.