I am power. I am history. I am smarts. I am beauty.
I am intimidation. I am determination.
I am unstoppable. I am limitless.
Just working on a Serena Williams shoe commercial here. The only one of these things she has actually said was the first one. "Quite frankly," she said, "I'm the best in the world."
It's true. She is. The best. All of those other things are true, too.
How about this one?
I am Tiger Woods.
No, she's not. But she should be. Every last thing you see in Woods, every reason we watch him and love him, she should be, too. In fact, she should be more.
Serena Williams should be bigger than Tiger Woods. Why isn't she?
"Honestly, I think I lost because of me and not because of anything she did."
That's what Williams said Wednesday after losing 7-6 (7-3), 5-7, 7-5 to Svetlana Kuznetsova in the quarterfinals of the French Open.
And that says everything about Williams. Why isn't Serena bigger than Tiger?
It's because of her.
She has grumbled about her ranking, which is No. 2. When Dinara Safina moved to No. 1, that's when Williams made her quite-frankly statement.
And her fans have grumbled about race. You can't ignore the relationship between her race and her sport. Maria Sharapova, a gigantic Barbie doll and the ideal white tennis playing stereotype, gets more endorsements than Williams, who is beauty in a different, less traditionally tennis way. She is thick and muscular. And black.
I'm not sure she realizes how important she can be. But the biggest problem is Williams herself. She has done this to herself through lack of commitment, lack of fitness.
Williams is one of the greatest tennis players of all time, but her career is a failure so far because she could have been so much more.
I am out of shape. I am enjoying my celebrity. I am fully committed and prepared to win four to six weeks a year, during the majors.
This tournament was a typical mess for Williams. She arrived carrying a little too much weight, nearly lost to a nobody -- Klara Zakopalova? -- while moping through her first match.
She was booed. She accused another player of cheating. She only decided to turn it on in the fourth round. Serena Time, someone called it. And she didn't argue. And then she lost, "because of me."
That's the whole problem.
Tiger Woods is the picture of fitness. At the TPC a few weeks ago, the question was whether he was too muscular for his own swing. Serena Williams showed up maybe her heaviest ever at the Australian Open two years ago and won anyway.
Tiger Woods skips plenty of tournaments, but when he's there, he's there to kill. Serena Williams showed up the tournament before the French, played one set and left. She said she was too hurt to come at all, but came because the tour mandated that she play. If she hadn't, she would have been fined $75,000.
"I don't know about you, but $75,000 is a lot of money to me," Williams said. "I'm redecorating a house, and $75,000 is my furniture budget, some stairs ... I can't just go writing checks for $75,000 in this economy."
I am eyeing a chaise lounge.
Williams has won 10 majors, but she could dominate this game, dominate the sports world. She could win everything, be the best ever, like Tiger, and wipe away Sharapova. And she could mean so much more.
Consider not only her talent, but also her marketing edge. Think about American pop culture and what draws people, advertisers. Be honest: If Williams were fit and focused, this is what you'd have: A beautiful, strong woman dominating a sport where everyone is a fit woman in skimpy clothes.
Tiger wears slacks and plays a slow game against a bunch of middle-aged guys. This is not meant as a rip job on Serena, but as a plea to her. Five years. Just give it five years of commitment for your legacy, for your sport, for young girls.
True, this isn't all her fault. Not 100 percent.
The pressure of sex appeal is on a woman much more than a man. When I've mentioned Sharapova and Barbie dolls before, in contrast to Williams, I've inevitably gotten e-mails from black women telling me that Williams' curves are not just diet, that this is about an African-American woman's body type.
There is something galling about Sharapova being the richest female athlete in the world when she has accomplished so much less than Williams. A few years ago, Forbes Magazine said that Sharapova made $23 million, and Williams $14 million.
"That's totally a black thing," said Sonny Vaccaro, the former shoe company rep who created the Shoe Wars by pitting sneaker companies against each other to get athletes to represent them. "If Serena and [her sister] Venus would have been named Chrissy [Evert] and Steffi [Graf], they would have made $100 million, no question. These girls, in my estimation, probably made less of their fame financially than anyone I have seen."
Bob Williams, CEO of Burns Entertainment & Sports Marketing, Inc., a Chicago-based company that matches celebrities with advertisers, disagrees.
"If you look over the last 15 years of the top endorsers, you see at least half of them are African-Americans," he said. "So I don't think you can make the argument that it's racial at all. Fortunately for Maria and unfortunately for Serena, most people consider Maria's looks to be at a model-type level.
"But part of it is the international factor in Europe; Serena does not have that. But also, there's no doubt that Tiger is the best golfer to carry a club, or second best to Nicklaus. MJ was no doubt the greatest player of his era, maybe the greatest of all time. With Serena, you can't make that argument. She doesn't play for a while because she wants to do other stuff, and her game kind of suffers, and then she comes back. She wins majors, but she doesn't win enough other tournaments to be No. 1."
She won one non-major last year.
Yes, black athletes get endorsements, but those are black men. But appearance and the white ideal are a much bigger issue for women. Serena Williams shouldn't have to come in behind Sharapova as tennis' It Girl. Instead, she can change the model.
I am that good.
If she stayed fit, and fought hard the way Woods does, she would win everything, and create a new ideal.
For years, she listed herself as 5-9, 134 pounds. Now, she says 150. And she weighs way more than that. Why lie? Why play into the false ideals, telling young girls out there that the ideal is blonde and thin?
You don't have to be 5-9, 134 to win Wimbledon. But that's the message she pushes.
Come on Serena. This kind of talent doesn't come around often. We don't see too many Serena Williams. Fight hard, get fit -- and you still won't be anywhere near 134 pounds -- stay committed, bypass Woods and get out the word:
I am the best possible me. I am better than a Barbie. I am stronger than a Tiger.