In 2017, Serena Williams not only competed in the Australian Open, but won the tournament while being pregnant.While taking time off to prepare for her child, Williams’ ranking dropped from number one in the world to five hundred. Through this criticism Williams creates a new narrative representing both motherhood and career. This study examines Serena Williams’ multi-faceted identity in her professional and personal world. To carry out my study, I conducted an analysis using rhetorical criticism informed by framing and analyzing the documentary series Being Serena. My analysis uncovered three themes that frame Williams’ narrative. The first theme, motherhood as a disadvantage, emphasizes Williams overcoming the boundaries of stereotypical concepts of motherhood and career. The second theme, the double-sided comeback, deals with Williams framing the physical and mental aspects of her comeback to tennis. Lastly, the third theme, vulnerability, focuses on Williams allowing her vulnerability to inspire other women and also set new boundaries for motherhood and career. My conclusion points to the need for more respect towards female athletes, and woman in general, who want to start a family and have a career.


Hester, Scarlett


Communication Studies


Arts and Humanities


framing, multi-faceted identity, Serena Williams, motherhood, double bind

Publication Date


Degree Granted

Bachelor of Arts

Document Type

Senior Independent Study Thesis



© Copyright 2019 Mary McKenzie Reese