Tonight, Serena Williams plays her first quarter-final match of the 2019 U.S. Open, in pursuit of her 24th Grand Slam singles title. She won her 23rd, the 2017 Australian Open, while eight weeks pregnant, and a new social media spot from longtime sponsor Chase weaves the narratives of her athletic achievement and motherhood into the story of a single, singular life.
The short film from Droga5 opens with a sonogram, as a reporter congratulates Williams. Personal videos and photos of Williams’ pregnancy follow, and in voiceover, she explains her excitement and struggles. There is footage of her daughter, Alexis Olympia, but the spot also shows Williams in recovery after a difficult delivery, when she suffered from a pulmonary embolism. (In the aftermath, Williams has been vocal about the lackluster care expectant mothers, especially women of color, often receive in the U.S.)
“This Mama Keeps Going” is an extension of Chase’s campaign from last year, a more upbeat take on Williams’ perseverance, set to LL Cool J’s “Mama Said Knock You Out.” This more introspective look challenges misogynist assumptions that motherhood makes women weaker. (Pregnancy and birth actually share many similarities to extreme sports.)
Through scenes of breastfeeding, pumping and calming a fussy toddler, Williams speaks about the joy of watching a daughter succeed. Only then does it become clear that her words are from a press conference after her very first Grand Slam win, 20 years ago at the U.S. Open in 1999.