Serena Williams shares rare personal photo in emotional tribute

The star is paying it forward

Life takes a village, and Serena Williams sure knows it. In a new emotional tribute, the star revealed how she maintains her support system and is always there for her friends.

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The star gave a heartfelt shout-out to one of her closest friends, physical therapist Esther Lee, who faces a heartbreaking battle ahead of her.

While fans went wild over Ciara and Kim Kardashian's Sports Illustrated covers, Serena took to Instagram to reveal that of her best friend's, which sees her with oxygen tubes attached.

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The feature, titled The Caretaker, details Esther's battle with pancreatic cancer, and how none other than the tennis player herself as well as snowboarder Shaun White were some of her dearest caretakers.

Being there in her friend's time of need was a no-brainer for Serena, and she opened up about their years-long friendship in the heartfelt tribute.

She captioned the post with: "[Esther] has been by my side for many years, and it was an honor to do the same for her after the devastation of her pancreatic cancer diagnoses."

          View this post on Instagram                       A post shared by Serena Williams (@serenawilliams)

The emotional cover

The athlete detailed: "This @sportsillustrated story gives you a glimpse into the wildly fearless and brave road to recovery, and the many people she has inspired along the way."

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Fans commended her in the comments and inundated Esther with messages of support and well wishes, writing: "She is so inspiring and your friendship is as beautiful as the both of you," and: "Praying for a full recovery and [that] she is better soon," as well as: "Cancer sucks! But we fight!"

Esther taking care of Serena's dog as the star competes on the court

Esther also took to Instagram to thank her friends for their continued support, writing: "Touched by this beautiful interpretation of some of the treasured pieces of my life and my journey with pancreatic cancer."

Giving a sweet nod to both athletes she calls her friends, she wrote: "I am humbled by all the unexpected love returned to me. @shaunwhite and @serenawilliams thank you for switching roles with me to be my caretakers in my time of need."

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