“I feel lighter, I feel healthier, and even though I’m 31—which really isn’t old, but for an athlete, particularly a tennis player, it’s old—I promise you, my body has never felt better. Considering how much I’ve played and how much I’ve done, I feel fine. I’m strong…” says Serena Williams.

Her 5-foot 9-inch, 155-pound powerhouse frame is a mind-blowing combination of speed, power and never-before-seen toughness that have allowed Williams to run roughshod over all comers during the last decade.

But two years ago, the champion was engaged in the ultimate match of her life and fighting just to breathe after suffering from a pulmonary embolism. Today, she tells ESSENCE that she’s healthier than ever, and winning not just in tennis but in life. For more on Williams’ story and the July “Body Issue” of ESSENCE, visit The July issue hit newsstands on June 7.

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