Serena Williams Says Getting 'Ghosted' by a Guy at Age 20 Inspired Her to Win: 'I Can Be Vengeful'

"When he ghosted me I used that as an opportunity to say, 'he’s gonna regret this for the rest of his life,' Williams said

<p>Christopher Polk/Variety via Getty</p> Serena Williams

Christopher Polk/Variety via Getty

Serena Williams

Serena Williams is considered by many to be the greatest tennis player of all time — but even that couldn’t stop her from dealing with getting “ghosted.”

In her new ESPN+ docuseries, premiering July 10, Williams opened up about that moment and how it pushed her even harder on the court.

In the second episode of In the Arena: Serena Williams, the tennis icon reveals that when she was 20, a guy she was dating disappeared without explanation. “It was the first relationship that I had ever had, but I was in my 20s, so you know, whatever…and then he ghosts me, I got ghosted,” she said.

Williams continued, adding that she “used” the moment as fuel for her tennis game. “And it wasn’t even that serious, but it was like I used that and I made it way more serious than what it was. So, when he ghosted me, I used that as an opportunity to say, ‘He’s gonna regret this for the rest of his life.’ That was just the motivation I needed, just the excuse I used to go the extra mile.”

Related: Serena Williams Isn't Sure She'll Ever Play Coco Gauff: 'Let Me Ask My Knees' (Exclusive)

“I’m gonna make sure that this person never forgets me. I’m gonna make sure that this person sees me everywhere for the rest of their life. I can be vengeful,” she said.

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<p>Michael Loccisano/Getty</p> Serena Williams

Michael Loccisano/Getty

Serena Williams

The docuseries is described as “the most complete, intimate, and compelling account of her legendary career," according to ESPN's press release.

Related: Serena Williams on 'Persevering' Through the 'Negatives and Positives' of Her Barrier-Breaking Tennis Career

Williams spoke to PEOPLE at the 2024 Tribeca Festival premiere of the docuseries on May 13, and discussed whether she'd ever come back to tennis to play Coco Gauff, who has said she wishes she had a chance to play the G.O.A.T.

"I mean, let me ask my knees?" Williams quipped.

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