Serena Williams Shares the Origin of Her Grunt on the Tennis Court: 'It's Like a Part of My Life'

The tennis great explained that she was inspired by former tennis star Monica Seles

<p>First We Feast/YouTube</p> Serena Williams on

First We Feast/YouTube

Serena Williams on 'Hot Ones'

Serena Williams is giving fans some insight into her game — and, specifically, the iconic noise she'd make during matches!

The 42-year-old tennis legend shared the origins of her infamous grunt during an interview with Hot Ones published on Thursday, July 4. While talking to host Sean Evans, she revealed that the go-to noise was actually inspired by another tennis great.

"So I grunt because growing up I liked this tennis player named Monica Seles and she grunts. She had this really cool grunt. It was like, '[grunt].' And I loved that, I was like, 'That's so cool,'" Williams recalled. "And so I literally would grunt because of her and then it just became natural and then my grunt just became like a [grunt]. It was really loud."

"I guess it's a form of breathing," she added of her longtime technique. "I grunt playing golf now… It's like a part of my life… Other people say it's relieving and exhaling air and it's a different way to exhale air."

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

Seles, who secured 59 career titles and played her last professional match in 2003, actually inspired Wimbledon’s Centre Court “grunt-o-meter," according to the International Tennis Hall of Fame.

As Seles told the Wall Street Journal in 2013, she began grunting at a young age. “Some people loved it, others hated it,” Seles said. “I grunted since I was age 7. I was a little girl, and they didn’t have kid’s racquets in those days. So my dad just gave me his racquet to play with, but I was tiny, so I put all my energy into it, just the same way I played with two hands from both sides, because I had to."

She added, "It wasn’t an issue until I became No. 1 and then the competitors always try to find a little edge started to complain, because at the end of the day [tennis] was a super competitive industry.”

As for Williams, per the Sun, she previously revealed to David Letterman in 2009 how Seles inspired her growing up. "She's like the first person that I know that really used to grunt really loud and really hard, so that's kind of how I modeled my grunt after," she said. "Because you have to have role models when it comes to grunting."

<p>Mark Kolbe/Getty </p> Serena Williams in January 2020

Mark Kolbe/Getty

Serena Williams in January 2020

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Williams, who is now retired from the game, caught up with PEOPLE for its 50th anniversary issue in April about what she's been most proud of in her career. As she explained at the time, "being able to persevere" sits at the top of that list.

"I think perseverance is something that is not often talked about. But I think staying in it, through the negatives and positives and still having a career that expands well over two decades, is pretty awesome," she said. "And I'm really fortunate that I've been able to do that."

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Elsewhere in the discussion, Williams added that the "list" of things she still wants to accomplish — even after her 23 Grand Slam titles and several other accolades — "never ends."

"Now, I really want to grow into this entrepreneur that I've actually been doing for the past 25 years. I've always been in this space, but actually focusing on my businesses and focusing on growing not only my brand, but different brands and working with different founders as a venture capitalist," she said. "But I think the very next thing on my list is just to be a good mom."

Williams is mom to daughters Olympia and Adira, who she shares with her husband Alexis Ohanian.

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