<
>

Meet the 'Serena Williams of skateboarding,' Samarria Brevard

Samarria Brevard during practice for Skateboard Street Women's at X Games Austin 2016. Eric Lars Bakke/ ESPN Images

Some call her the Serena Williams of skateboarding. Samarria Brevard giggles at the lofty compliment and says what's already known about Williams: "Serena is good."

Brevard is the first African-American female skateboarder to ever win a World Championship KDC in 2014. And she downplays the comparison to the world's top women's tennis player. "Plus," she says. "It's a different sport."

The 22-year-old's skateboarding aspirations started nine years ago. Brevard was outside her family's California home, dribbling and shooting a basketball with friends, when she noticed her brother and his pals jumping on a skateboard.

"Let me try," she said to them. "They handed me the board and I hopped on it." Her brother and his friends noticed her natural aptitude for the skateboard. "I was pretty stable," she explained, using an action sports term that describes a skateboarder's skills. After instantly falling in love with the sport, she decided to learn the basics of skateboarding and transitioned to trying difficult tricks.

Since then, the 5-foot-6 Brevard, who has coffee-colored curly hair and a hoop nose ring, has made a name for herself in the action sports world. She says she feels free when doing triple flips in the air and landing like a gymnast. With her soft temperament, it's hard to imagine her gliding on four wheels, dodging throngs of people while answering questions during a phone interview. Brevard skateboarding at a park while parrying this exchange, talking through her hands-free phone and earplugs. The sound of the skateboard wheels and the California wind competed with her voice, but she was completely at ease.

And as with all other competitive sports, Brevard needs to bring home some evidence to prove her skills. The X Games this month will be her third appearance in Austin, Texas, where if she wins, it will be her first medal in the Women's Skateboard Street competition. The four-day event will begin on June 2.

To prepare, Brevard says she visualizes herself doing the tricks; she uses her hands and feet to get a feel of how she will be off the ground. She never listens to music because "it can be a distraction," Brevard said. She said she doesn't have a specific skateboarder that she models herself on or wants to be like.

It was X Games five-time skateboarding medalist Mimi Knoop who coined Brevard as the Serena Williams of the sport.

In 1992, a year before Brevard was born, a reporter asked an 11-year-old with purple-and-white beads in her hair, "If you were a tennis player who would you like to be like?" Without hesitation, the girl responded, "Well, I like other people to be like me." Her name is Serena.

Just like Williams, who has won 21 Grand Slam titles, Brevard, too, is inspired by her own image.

Who does Brevard turn to for motivation? "I look at myself," she said.

Catch the X Games Austin action on ESPN and ABC from June 2nd to June 5th. For more information, go to www.xgames.com.