Claressa Shields Gives Serena Williams Her Flowers: 'When I First Saw Her, That’s Who I Wanted to Be Like'

Illustration for article titled Claressa Shields Gives Serena Williams Her Flowers: 'When I First Saw Her, That’s Who I Wanted to Be Like'
Photo: Gregory Shamus (Getty Images)

Claressa Shields, who last I checked is pretty damn good at beating the dog shit out of people, recently became boxing’s first-ever two-division, undisputed world champ after adorning Marie-Eve Dicaire’s face with her fists. And for her encore, she’ll be taking the plunge into mixed martial arts to deliver more pain and punishment on June 10, when she devours Brittney Elkin during her Professional Fighter’s League debut.


Shields is chronicling her journey to become the greatest two-sport athlete the world has ever known with a self-titled ESPN+ series. So when she’s not training for her next bloodbath or preoccupied with decapitating her opponents, she’s kind enough to pop up on The ETCs with Kevin Durant to discuss her foray into MMA and how she draws inspiration from a fellow G.W.O.A.T. (Greatest Woman of All-Time), Serena Williams.

“I’m already the greatest woman of all time in boxing, and I was like, ‘How could I be the greatest woman of all time just overall, as far as MMA and boxing?” she said. “How can I be recognized to have people stop comparing Amanda Nunes’ hands to mine?’ It’s not comparable. I have better hands than her, but they were trying to compare me to her. No, she didn’t win the Olympics twice for boxing. MMA gets more recognition and I wanted to get some of that recognition to show that I have the mindset, the greatness and the discipline.”

The 26-year-old made similar remarks during a recent interview with MMA Fighting and implied that while accolades are cool, money is a motivating factor as well: “I want to be a household name. I want to be a millionaire. I want to get my just due and I was never able to get my just due in boxing so I’m going to use my athleticism to see what I can do in MMA.”

While speaking with Durant, Shields also explained her reverence for Serena Williams, who recently made headlines after lending her support to Naomi Osaka amid her withdrawal from the French Open.

“When I started boxing, my dad had mentioned Laila Ali to me saying that she was Muhammad Ali’s daughter. But when I looked her up I didn’t want to box like her. I felt like at 14 I was already boxing better than her so she wasn’t my role model. It was Serena Williams,” Shields said. “When I look at Serena Williams, she was dominant, she was dark-skinned just like me. […] She’s so aggressive on the court, she’s got endorsement deals, sponsorships, and it was just seeing the ideal role model. When I first saw her that’s who I wanted to be like.”

Check out the rest of Shield’s interview on the latest episode of The ETCs with Kevin Durant.

Menace to supremacy. Founder of Extraordinary Ideas and co-host and producer of The Extraordinary Negroes podcast. Impatiently waiting for y'all to stop putting sugar in grits.


Ka Mai uses a burner 'cause he hates social media

I’ve never seen this girl fight, and the sheer level of willpower that comes across from her words—even in plain text—intimidates the fuck out of me.