Her infamous outburst at a line judge at last year’s U.S. Open got a lot of attention. Her follow up act deserves more…

I first saw a short film feature about Serena Williams’ work with African children during Wimbledon coverage in June. The U.S. Open is taking place right now in New York, and though Serena can’t play because of a foot injury, she’s there supporting her sister Venus and making the rounds at one of her favorite venues. She was invited into the ESPN broadcast booth Friday night for commentary and conversation with John and Patrick McEnroe, and it was good stuff. She was interesting and funny and engaging on tennis, but compelling on life beyond it.

When one of the McEnroes asked Serena if she wanted to be considered the greatest woman player in tennis, she answered thoughtfully. ‘I don’t want to be considered the greatest woman tennis player…..but the player who helped others the most through work I’m able to do.’ She went on to reflect on the deeper meaning of success and celebrity, and said ‘Maybe the reason I’m good at tennis is to help others.’

Right on. Here’s how she’s doing it…

I often think and say to myself “what I can do to help others.” For years I have donated to so many different charities because I am a philanthropist at heart and I believe in the bible adage that says “giving is better than receiving.” When I give I truly feel excited and happy and my heart rejoices. Last November I went to Africa and saw things over there that were simply not fair. Kids could not afford to go to school because their parents could not afford to pay $1.00 a week I was mortified. What would I have done if I did not have my education? I would be in a bad situation. I would probably be a bad money manager and I would be heading for a dead end. I couldn’t see these young people just not attend school and damage their future; however I understood that their parents simply don’t have the money for school.

I thought to myself as I toured Africa “what could I do?” Then I thought to myself I have finally found my calling, I finally found my love. I love education, I love helping people, and I love seeing people succeed. I want this world to be a better place for tomorrow.

Giving back when you’ve been given much is…well…biblical.

I am one person and no I am not trying to save the world or trying to make world peace. I would be happy if I could just help one person. That would be more than enough for me… But if we all just help one person imagine the impact we could make.

This reminds me of someone I interviewed on radio in the immediate aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, someone who sped down to the Gulf to do whatever he and his organization could to help meet such great need.

The Starfish Foundation. Way to save the world, one person at a time.

Sheila Liaugminas

Sheila Liaugminas is an Emmy award-winning Chicago-based journalist in print and broadcast media. Her writing and broadcasting covers matters of faith, culture, politics and the media....