Go Ahead, Underestimate Serena Williams at Your Own Peril

New Gatorade work celebrates motherhood and comeback

On the way back up the rankings. Gatorade
Headshot of Doug Zanger

Pity the poor people tasked with determining seeds for Wimbledon. The quirks of world rankings put Serena Williams 181st in the world as she took time off for her pregnancy and the birth of her daughter, Olympia. She ended up with the 25th seed for the tournament but, let’s be honest, that’s low.

Williams is one of the world’s greatest athletes and made a serious charge yet fell short of nabbing her 24th Grand Slam tennis championship, losing to Germany’s Angelique Kerber in the final. With such fine form in the tournament, Williams vaulted back up the rankings, where she currently sits at 28th.

In celebration, Gatorade released a new spot that is a tribute, not only for her return but to mothers around the world. Narrated by Williams’ own mother, Oracene Price, the themes of sacrifice, dedication and strength provide a powerful foundation and are a reminder that Williams is indeed in her own league.

While some congratulatory creative can feel forced, the theme and messages in the spot are authentic and close to Williams’ heart. After a difficult delivery, that included emergency surgery post-birth, motherhood is an incredibly important part of her perspective.

A gracious runner-up, Williams said in a post-match on-court interview that “I was playing for [all the moms] today.” Additionally, in a news conference, she encouraged all mothers to keep pursuing their careers saying: “I had such a long struggle to come back and it was really difficult, and honestly I feel like if I can do it, they can do it. I’m just that person, that vessel that’s saying you can be whatever you want to be if you want to go back to work.”

And we’ll see Williams back at work, leading up to the next Grand Slam, the U.S. Open in New York at the end of August and, chances are, we’ll see her back at the top of the rankings sooner than later.


Client: Gatorade
Agency: TBWA\Chiat\Day
Chief Creative Officer: Renato Fernandez
Global Creative Director: Doug Menezes
Global Creative Director: Mark Peters
Senior Copywriter: Liz Cartwright
Senior Art Director: Stephen Lum
Director of Production: Brian O’Rourke
Executive Producer: Guia Iacomin
Associate Producer: Jeff Holiday
Managing Director: Jerico Dig Cabaysa
Brand Director: Robyn Morris
Management Supervisor: Gabriela Marino
Account Group Assistant: Wenona Carlos
Group Planning Director: Scott MacMaster
Global Planning Director: Martin Ramos
Director of Business Affairs: Robin Rossi
Business Affairs Manager: Tana Prosper
Talent Payment Manager: Kevin Castro
Senior Traffic Operations Manager: Judy Brill
Media Agency: OMD

Editorial House: Cut + Run
Managing Director: Michelle Eskin
Executive Producer: Amburr Farls
Producer: Brian Mulvey
Editor: Sean Fazende
Assistant Editor: Ronnie Shatto

VFX: Framestore
Executive Producer: James Razzall
Producer: Morgan MacCuish
Creative Director: Alex Thomas
Flame Leads: Sarah Marikar, Julian Ford
Compositors: JD Yepes, Minsang Lee, Kingsley Rothwell, Humberto Reynaga
VFX Coordinator: Amee Minsal
VFX Support: Brent Shafer, Alexandra Wysota

Color: Framestore
Colorist: Jonah Braun

Final Mix: Lime
Executive Producer: Susie Boyajan
Mixer: Mark Meyuhas
Assistant Mixer: Peter Lapinski

Music: Human
Executive Producer: Carol Dunn
Creative Director: Gareth Williams
Composer: Jon Hubbell

Sound Design: Human
Sound Designer: Gareth Williams

@zanger doug.zanger@adweek.com Doug Zanger is a senior editor, agencies at Adweek, focusing on creativity and agencies.
Publish date: July 16, 2018 https://stage.adweek.com/creativity/go-ahead-underestimate-serena-williams-at-your-own-peril/ © 2020 Adweek, LLC. - All Rights Reserved and NOT FOR REPRINT