The 100 Most Influential People of 2021
By Serena Williams
September 15, 2021 7:15 AM EDT

There’s something poetic about the way Simone Biles moves. She’s a master of precision, grace and dominance, and at the age of just 24, she has cemented herself as one of the most decorated American gymnasts of all time. But when she’s not on the mat or competing in front of the world, Simone strikes the powerful balance between humility and confidence—she’s enthusiastic yet stoic, believing in her strength, trusting her body and embracing her greatness. With a total of 32 Olympic and world championship medals, Simone’s athletic achievements are seen once in a lifetime.

What she embodies truly reflects the endless potential of Black women. I wish I had her to look up to when I was younger and trying to realize my dreams.

Simone’s greatest work, however, is what’s being done outside of the gym. She is using her mature voice and platform to share her personal journey of self-love, respect and acceptance—Simone is wise beyond her years. By living her truth so loudly and by championing mental health, she is setting new standards of beauty, strength and resilience, breaking down today’s image-obsessed stereotypes and encouraging others to do the same. Simone is a shining example of what success looks like when you let go of what the world thinks and gather your strength from yourself … from your soul.

Williams has won 23 Grand Slam singles titles and is a philanthropist and designer

Simone Biles was part of TIME’s 2016 Next Generation Leaders series.

Djeneba Aduayom for TIME

Get a print of the 2021 TIME100 cover featuring Simone Biles

Styled by Summer Salah; Hair by Liz Alfred; Make-up by Amber Livingston; Production by Bird House Productions

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