Karwai Tang—WireImage/Getty Images; Steve Zak—Getty Images for Sherri Hill
October 5, 2016 2:33 PM EDT

Serena Williams is arguably the greatest athlete of her generation. She has consistently dominated the tennis world for the past decade and a half, but she admits that some of her most difficult obstacles took place off the court. Self-confidence and self-love isn’t always easy when you’re living in the limelight, and Williams wishes she could have had Simone Biles‘s poise and maturity when she was younger.

“I think all of the women are so poised,” she told the FADER of Olympians Simone Biles and Simone Manuel. “I really find them so amazing, especially Biles. Her comments, her performance, I feel like she’s 35 years old, mentally. She’s just so incredible. If anything, I wish I could be like her when I was younger. Same with miss Manuel. It could be that society’s changed and there are so many things that are different now.”

Biles has definitely proven that she can shrug of criticism and stay confident in the spotlight. After the Olympics, she spoke out about her mental health, saying, “Having ADHD, and taking medicine for it is nothing to be ashamed of nothing that I’m afraid to let people know.”

When Williams was younger, she faced similar negative commentary. “People have been talking about my body for a really long time. Good things, great things, negative things,” she said. “…It was ‘she’s too strong,’ and then ‘she’s too sexy,’ and then ‘she’s too strong’ again. So I’m like, Well, can you choose one? But either way, I don’t care which one they choose. I’m me and I’ve never changed who I am.”

She says she eventually learned how to handle the comments: “People are entitled to have their opinions, but what matters most is how I feel about me, because that’s what’s going to permeate the room I’m sitting in. It’s going to make you feel that I have confidence in myself whether you like me or not, or you like the way I look or not, if I do. That’s the message I try to tell other women and in particular young girls. You have to love you, and if you don’t love you no one else will. And if you do love you, people will see that and they’ll love you too.”

Read the full interview at thefader.com

Contact us at letters@time.com.

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