Serena Williams Applauded Kelly Clarkson for Always Clapping Back at Body-Shamers

"You set 'em straight and I was like, 'Woah, don't mess with her,'" Williams said on The Kelly Clarkson Show.

Kelly Clarkson; Serena Williams
Photo: Weiss Eubanks/NBCUniversal/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images/Tim Clayton/Corbis via Getty Images

Both Kelly Clarkson and Serena Williams are bona fide queens when it comes to shutting down haters. In a recent episode of The Kelly Clarkson Show, the duo bonded over what it's like to have your body constantly scrutinized by the public, and how much they admire each other for not only standing up for themselves but for also setting positive examples for women everywhere.

"I've always had to stand strong for myself with my body image in the public eye, and I love that you've always done that," Clarkson told Williams, who joined the show virtually. "You are so body positive." (

Williams, as you might know, is a champion in her sport in more ways than one. Sure, she has a cool 23 Grand Slam singles titles, but the athlete has also fearlessly stood up to blatant racism and sexism throughout her career, and she's spoken out about what it really means to be a Black woman in tennis.

"There have been so many things I had to overcome," Williams told Clarkson, adding that "no one really looked like [her]" when she first started playing tennis. "You couldn't really express yourself, or it was seen as bad," she explained.

"There's a double standard in everything we do," added Williams. "That's just the society we happen to live in, and it takes generations to change." (

As Clarkson said on her talk show, Williams has also been a powerful voice when it comes to body image. The tennis star has not only called out people who've been hyper-critical of her body since she was a young girl, but she's also been candid about her renewed appreciation for her body after giving birth to her daughter, Olympia. (Remember when Williams referred to her body as a "weapon and machine"? So badass.)

But as soon as Clarkson began to praise Williams for promoting body positivity, the athlete responded by complimenting her for the exact same thing. "I love that you've always done that," she told Clarkson. "It's so cool. One time, I think you went off on somebody. I was like, 'Oh!' I loved you for it."

Williams was referring to an incident in 2015 when UK journalist Katie Hopkins body-shamed Clarkson on Twitter, and later suggested in an interview with Entertainment Tonight that the singer should "get some of that weight off" (*eye roll*).

"I was like, 'Look, I ain't got time for you over the pond,'" Clarkson said of the experience in her interview with Williams. "I've got a lot of people hating on me over here. I'm just like, 'Go have some tea, and get off of me.'"

Clarkson had a similar response when she was first asked about Hopkins' comments back in 2015. In an interview with UK entertainment magazine Heat, the singer admitted she didn't even know who Hopkins was, let alone that she'd said anything about her, even though it was all over the news at the time. "Someone tweeted something about me?" she told the outlet. "Oh, and she's tweeted something nasty about me? That's because she doesn't know me. I'm awesome! It doesn't bother me. It's a free world. Say what you will." (Here's how Clarkson shut down yet another troll who fat-shamed her on Twitter.)

"You set 'em straight," Williams said of Clarkson's clap-back. "I was like, 'Woah, don't mess with her.'"

For Clarkson, staying quiet in the face of body-shaming simply isn't an option — not because of how their words impact her, but rather the effect those statements can have on others, she told Williams. "[Body-shaming is] rude, and obviously nobody likes to hear it, but other women and other little girls are looking out there, and they're going, 'If they think she's this way, then what does the world think of me?'" Clarkson said. "The domino effect of that is so detrimental for people's psyches, especially nowadays with young women on social media. It's just so hard."

"That's why I feel like I have to keep talking about it every once in a while and stand up," Clarkson continued. "I try to do it in a comedic way and keep it light. But sometimes you just gotta shut 'em down." (

"Well, I don't think you kept it light," Williams replied with a laugh. "That was not light, but whatever you say."

Body-shaming incidents like this are no doubt frustrating. But for Williams, she told Clarkson, the key is to stay true to yourself, no matter what people say.

"Always be humble, and always be kind," said Williams. "That's the best that I can do. At the end of the day, I really feel like things even out at some point. I just try to be the nicest person that I can be."

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