Serena Williams’ Nike ad during the Oscars was a show stopper for me, as for many women. Dream Crazier. Williams speaks powerfully about how we women are told our dreams are unattainable, crazy, delusional—and that we should give them up—or at least lower our expectations. The ad treats us to videos of women pursuing their sport to extraordinary results. At the end of the video we see Williams herself, serving up an ace. She says,
A woman, winning 23 Grand Slams, having a baby, and then coming back for more? Crazy.
I love this.
Yes, women are serious, passionate, fiery and fierce. And they can have babies and go back an do it all again. This is no surprise to me. I bet it’s not to you either. Especially if you are a horsewoman.
While the ad features women of extraordinary talent, it speaks to all of us women—athletes or not. It doesn’t matter where we are on the spectrum of skill or achievement, we all dream crazy. As I mentioned in my February Street to Stable column, amateur riders are among the most devoted, passionate and serious athletes I know. We—I am one of them—dare to dream crazier every day. Whether the dream is to get back on a horse after a serious injury, to take your horse to a first show or to compete at the highest level in our discipline—our dreams are real and valid and serious.
I feel crazy angry when I see anyone in our community demeaning those who ride at the more novice levels. Some of these riders are just beginning their journey and will rise to the top; some will never get past a certain level, but they will die trying. It is unacceptable to treat these dreams any differently than those of our Olympic hopefuls. For a trainer to speak in a condescending tone, for a show manager to consistently place these classes in an inferior ring, or for advanced riders to remark skeptically about those less skilled is simply unacceptable. We must stand with and for each other, as equestrians, athletes and women.
Everyone’s dream is crazy valid. If we don’t have our dreams, then what do we have?
While I hope my daughters have a different life experience, I aim to build the foundation for them to go full tilt after their wildest dreams—in sport and in life. My intention is to do everything in my power to inspire and support with my words and my actions. I invite you to do the same for those around you.
Yes, Ms. Williams, “let’s show them what crazy can do.”