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In Her Words on #InternationalWomensDay: Madison Keys

At Ultimate Software, we’re proud to partner with incredible female athletes who are working relentlessly to change the world and chase their dreams. In honor of #InternationalWomensDay, award-winning professional tennis player Madison Keys shares her experience with us about everything from finding motivation to the women she admires. An aggressive baseliner packing a powerful serve, Madison turned pro in 2009 and became one of the youngest women to ever win a WTA match at age 14. Off the court, Madison partners with FearlesslyGiRL, an internationally recognized organization dedicated to inspiring young women across North America to be kinder to themselves and to put an end to girl-against-girl bullying. Here’s her story.

Has anyone ever told you your dreams were unreachable?

Of course! I think everyone has to deal with others doubting them, and it’s definitely amplified when you’re in the public eye. To this day, people still tell me I can’t do things, but I’ve learned not to listen. It’s up to me to decide what I’m capable of.

How do you keep yourself motivated when the journey seems daunting, or insurmountable?

Whenever I get overwhelmed, I like to remind myself of all the things I’ve already accomplished. It hasn’t been easy, but I’ve persevered. If I can achieve what I have already, I can do almost anything.

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?

To enjoy the journey, because that’s honestly the best part! Goals are important, and I have many of them, but finding and embracing joy through every step is what’s kept me loving what I do and motivated to keep going.

Who’s had the biggest impact on your career, and why?

I don’t think I can pinpoint one specific person who’s impacted my career. I have had so many incredible people help me in countless different ways. They’ve all been important to my growth, and I’m grateful for each of them.

What women inspire you, and why?

There are so many women who inspire me. Ruth Bader Ginsburg is a role model for all women and her ceaseless fight for equality paved the way for progress. Michelle Obama never gave up on her dreams, refused to let discrimination hold her back, and proved that women can be exceptionally strong and beautifully graceful at the same time. My mom is the strongest person I’ve ever met; her support and love has kept me going and she taught me the true meaning of grit.

What advice would you give to women or girls who want to follow in your footsteps?

My best advice is to not follow in my footsteps – create your own path! Learn from others’ mistakes and accomplishments, but try not to follow too closely. You are your own person and your story deserves to be told without attributions.

When do you feel the strongest?

I feel my strongest when I’m doing something I truly love, when I’m in my element, and things just happen without me having to force it.