In you were watching the VMAs Sunday night on the American MTV feed you were among the first to see a new Gatorade commercial paying tribute to Serena Williams legacy in tennis, narrated by none other than Beyoncé. Now, there was a time when Beyoncé was doing endorsement deal after endorsement deal to the point of over saturation (although, I remember the Upgrade U DirectTV commercial so fondly) but these days Beyoncé isn’t licensing her likeness for anybody… except, Serena Williams.
I was watching the live feed and when the spot first started I had to ask if I was hearing Beyoncé’s voice or the work of a voiceover artist who answered an ad for a Beyoncé-like recording. Like all those commercials that use songs that sound like Lizzo, because they want Lizzo vibes without a Lizzo budget? I wasn’t even listening to what the commercial wasn’t trying to say, I was too busy checking Twitter for more information.
You know that paycheque must have had a lot of zeros on it. Beyoncé and Serena are friends, but just because it’s something Beyoncé would want to be a part of doesn’t mean you’re getting the friends and family discount. And I assume, in addition to the money, this would have required creative control. It’s a given, she’d have final approval on the edit but I bet you she wrote her own script.
The campaign, saying goodbye and thank you to Serena Williams, is all about love. We’re saying goodbye, with love, to a woman who led with a fierce love for the game of tennis and evolving that game so that it loves people and players from different walks of life. And if you listen to Beyoncé’s words, they mirror the messages in her latest album, Renaissance. She speaks of loving your identity and loving all of yourself, the real version of yourself. Because with Beyoncé there’s always a through-line.
Without identifying herself or Serena for that matter, her voiceover reads like a poem. Here it is in full:
When the world writes her down in history, we’ll begin where she started – at love.
A love that started a movement, a movement to always love exactly who you are.
To be so in love with your identity, that your very essence can not be contained.
To love that sound of your own voice and the way you move.
To cherish every muscle and every curve your body exhibits.
To feel like a queen, unapologetically, with the crown indefinitely.
To always love being a proud Black woman, a parent, a dreamer.
To always love being you – a whole you, the real you.
To always love you.
Attached: Serena practicing in advance of the US Open at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center on August 28, 2022.