Monday, Williams took the arm of her former flame at the Civic Opera House in Chicago for their collaborative “Creative Minds Talk,” entitled The Art of Storytelling: Serena Williams & Common.
The tennis champ and rapper-turned-activist were in a three year relationship a number of years ago but are apparently on good terms now that Williams has started a family with her husband and Reddit co-founder, Alexis Ohanian and their 1-year-old daughter, Alexis Olympia Ohanian Jr.
Leading up to the event, the the new mother posted: “So excited to be joining @common on stage in Chicago for a Creative Minds Talk on Oct. 29 at the Lyric Opera House! #creativemindstalks.”
Despite raised brows from some, the pair looked surprisingly relaxed as they led a conversation together on the topics of public speaking, philanthropy, activism and entrepreneurship.
“You don’t watch ‘Golden Girls’ no more?” Common playfully teased Williams in front of what may been the blackest audience the Civic Opera House had ever seen.
In 2015, the 46-year-old shared details about the break-up during an interview on “The Meredith Vieira Show” and admitted he planned to make a conscious effort to maintain close.
“I have to say not every one of my ex-girlfriends are still friends but with some I am,” Common explained at the time. “[With Serena], it was kind of a mutual break-up, but she initiated it. It’s okay though, we’ve got a great understanding and I care about her as a person … so we can keep that friendship.”
— Serena Williams (@serenawilliams) October 24, 2018
During Monday’s event, the duo opened up about what inspired them to follow their dreams despite coming from Compton and Chicago, two cities known for producing great Black leaders who often overcame poverty.
“Compton gave me so much. It’s who I am,” said Williams. “It’s why I am able to go through so much and to deal with the lows. A lot of the stuff that I went through in Compton growing up on those public courts was really able to fortify me as an individual to just prepare myself for things I didn’t know I needed to be prepared for.”
“When I first started to play tennis I was always told that ‘you’re going to be great,’ … you’re going to be successful. And I really think having that positive reinforcement every single day of our lives — going out there on the practice court, years and years we’re doing it — is super, super important so eventually I believed it myself. If someone’s telling you every day that you’re good at this or you’re gonna be great, eventually you believe it.”
“One thing Chicago has given me that I’ve cherished the most is the authenticity,” said Common. “I can go wherever in the world — I can go to Italy, I can go to Spain, to Japan. I know how to be myself and I know how to present who I am and not change that for anybody.”
“I started out just wanting to be heard and seen,” the actor admitted to the audience. “I found music and I found hip-hop. Writing was something I already loved. I remember being in English class and my teacher would teach us about James Baldwin and Dr. Maya Angelou and Nikki Giovanni and all these great poets. I really related to writing and when hip-hop came, it was the thing that related to me as a human being and I felt like I was finding something in myself that let me express things that I never would express.”
Serena and Common are in the house! 🙌🏽 – From the Creative Minds Talks IG story pic.twitter.com/iweiE0T7Yr
— Chad (@CCSMOOTH13) October 29, 2018