The Embodied Maternal Rhetorics of Serena Williams


Borda JL. The Embodied Maternal Rhetorics of Serena Williams. Communication and Critical/Cultural Studies [Internet]. 2021.


This essay examines how and why the lived, experienced, and complicated maternal body matters in influencing public conversations about motherhood. Through analysis of Serena Williams’s acts of rhetorical agency (writings, interviews, and celebrity branding), I trace her employment of three distinct, but related, embodied rhetorical strategies–maternal vulnerability, ambivalence, and empowerment. I argue that Serena elevates the “rhetorical saliency” of motherhood at the intersections of race, privilege, power, and celebrity while addressing how we need to think about various issues impacting mothers in a more interconnected way, and how different mothers are (or may be) interconnected because of these issues.

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