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Serena Williams speaks onstage during the 2024 ESSENCE Festival Of Culture™ Presented By Coca-Cola® at Ernest N. Morial Convention Center on July 06, 2024 in New Orleans, Louisiana.© Getty Images

Serena Williams admits to being 'totally intimidated' ahead of long-awaited comeback gig: 'I'm definitely nervous'

The Grand Slam champ is returning to the ESPYs for the first time as a host!

Ahad Sanwari
Ahad Sanwari - New York
Senior WriterNew York
July 10, 2024
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Serena Williams is juggling several responsibilities at the moment — as a mom, a wife, a business mogul, and now the host of the ESPY Awards!

The 42-year-old tennis legend will return to the ESPYs stage (Excellence in Sports Performance Yearly) as host for the first time, becoming the fourth woman ever to host the show (following Danica Patrick, Megan Rapinoe, and Sue Bird) and the first African American female athlete to do so.

The 12-time ESPY winner sat down with Good Morning America's Will Reeve for an interview on July 10 and admitted to being nervous about taking on the gig, which will take place on July 11 at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles.

"I've been in rehearsals and it's going okay," she said at first, before admitting: "Oh my god, I don't know! I'm definitely nervous!"

When Will posited that she found herself comfortable around large crowds after having pulled entire stadiums worth of audiences over her prolific career, she said back: "Okay, I am totally intimidated by large crowds when I'm not playing tennis."

Serena Williams attends the 2024 ESSENCE Black Women in Business Dinner at the Four Seasons New Orleans on July 06, 2024 in New Orleans, Louisiana© Getty Images
The tennis champ will host the ESPY Awards for the first time on July 11

"I mean, another option is to just put on a tennis outfit and grab a racket and grab some balls and maybe just start hitting or something," she added with a chuckle.

MORE: Serena Williams stuns in semi-sheer pink outfit for coordinated fashion week appearance with sister Venus

Serena stated that on the night of the show, she was most excited to see the various female athletes who have taken over the industry and commanded the world's attention over the past year.

Serena Williams, on behalf of her sister Venus Williams, accepts the 2002 ESPY Award for Best Female Athlete© Getty Images
Serena is already a 12-time ESPY Award winner

"This is the year for ladies in sport, and I'm excited to see all the ladies kinda rule the ESPYs and just be super awesome," she stated with pride. Will also stated later that the tennis star and mom-of-two did have several jokes planned and was working on perfecting her "comedic timing."

MORE: Serena Williams turns heads in figure-hugging black dress for glamorous night out

The first episode of Serena's revelatory docuseries In the Arena also drops on ESPN on July 10, a day before her ESPYs hosting gig, and the tennis champ spoke about some of the topics she tackled in the series, including her competitive nature and not feeling good about having to beat her sister Venus each time they played against each other.

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The docuseries premiered last month at the Tribeca Film Festival in New York, and she spoke with Harper's Bazaar at the screening, saying: "I've never really been able to dive into the intimate moments, because tennis is so intense, and I was so intense and so focused and not really thinking about a deeper story. I was just thinking about … winning."

MORE: The best of Tribeca Film Festival 2024, from Demi Moore, Serena Williams, Robert De Niro, and more

"I never really went down memory lane; I always felt like I wanted to stay focused and continue to do the task at hand. So it was nice to take a deep breath and then tell a story that has never been told before."

Venus Williams and Serena Williams are seen front row at the Gucci Men's Spring Summer 2025 Fashion Show during the Milan Fashion Week Menswear Spring/Summer 2025 at Triennale di Milano on June 17, 2024 in Milan, Italy.© Getty Images
"It was nice to take a deep breath and then tell a story that has never been told before."

She also saw it as a way for herself and Venus to take back the narrative on the way their careers have been portrayed, starting with 2021's King Richard (which won Will Smith a controversial Oscar). "Sometimes, so many people are just telling a different story or seeing a visual of you being intense on the court and making that who you are."

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