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Serena Williams and Ariana Grande Get Vulnerable: The Broadsheet

Good morning, Broadsheet readers! IBM’s Red Hat acquisition closes, Saudi Arabia’s first female ambassador arrives at the White House, and two celebrity profiles go deep. Have a wonderful Wednesday. 

EVERYONE’S TALKING

– Vulnerability on display. Today, we have two women at the top of their fields getting vulnerable and letting us into their hardest moments. 

First, in Harper’s Bazaar, Serena Williams writes an essay about last year’s U.S. Open, which saw the tennis superstar fight with the referee and lose the match to Naomi Osaka under less-than-ideal circumstances. Through reflection and therapy, she started to understand: it wasn’t only about being discriminated against on the court, as she has been for her entire career. It was about how that interaction took away from another black female athlete at what should have been the best moment of her career. 

Williams thought it was her fault that Osaka’s big moment was ruined. But Osaka reminded Williams—her idol—that she should continue speaking up. “No one has stood up for themselves the way you have and you need to continue trailblazing,” Osaka told Williams after receiving her apology. 

In another cover story out yesterday, a second celebrity works through the challenges we saw her face in public. Ariana Grande, on the cover of Vogue, reflects on the Manchester bombing, rushing into an engagement as a “distraction,” and the time she’s now spending with herself. “No more distractions. You have to heal,” she says she told herself. (Like Serena, she discusses going to therapy.)

Grande threw herself into work—music—as part of her grieving process for both Manchester and her ex-boyfriend, rapper Mac Miller, who died in 2018. The result was the album Thank U, Next, and her world tour. 

Professional sports, pop music, celebrity—it can seem distant, but for these women, it’s work. As Williams said about her U.S. Open experience: “This incident—though excruciating for us to endure—exemplified how thousands of women in every area of the workforce are treated every day.”  

If you’d like a third profile to round out the reading list, Janelle Monae is on the cover of InStyle

Emma Hinchliffe
emma.hinchliffe@fortune.com
@_emmahinchliffe

ALSO IN THE HEADLINES

– 40 Under 40. Fortune‘s annual 40 Under 40 list, celebrating the business world’s up-and-coming leaders and innovators, is online this morning. Take a browse to learn more about Zilingo’s Ankiti Bose, Joy Buolamwini of the Algorithmic Justice League, Bridgewater’s Karen Karniol-Tambour, and others. Fortune 

– Red h(o)t acquisition. Fortune‘s Alan Murray chatted with IBM CEO Ginni Rometty about closing the company’s $34 billion acquisition of software company Red Hat. She believes the IBM-Red Hat combination will be better able to serve big companies with legacy systems, Alan writes. “You need a hybrid cloud. You can’t rebuild everything,” Rometty says. Fortune

– Epstein updates. Post #MeToo, prosecutors are pursuing sex trafficking charges against men accused of abuse, like Jeffrey Epstein and R. Kelly; the crime carries harsher penalties than assault, Vanessa Grigoriadis writes in Vanity Fair. The Epstein case was cold for years—except that Miami Herald reporter Julie K. Brown kept digging, working with visual journalist Emily Michot. And shares are sliding for L Brands, the owner of Victoria’s Secret, as CEO Les Wexner’s name becomes more linked to the Epstein case. 

– Northern Ireland news. The U.K. Parliament voted yesterday to extend abortion rights and same-sex marriage to Northern Ireland while the region’s governing coalition remains paralyzed, as it has been since 2017. Northern Ireland’s laws on these issues have been more restrictive than in the rest of the U.K. and Ireland, which voted to remove a constitutional ban on abortion last year. New York Times

MOVERS AND SHAKERS: Wendi Sturgis, CEO of Yext Europe and chief client officer of Yext, joins the board of directors of the Container Store. Variety hired BuzzFeed’s Kate Aurthur as editor-at-large. FITE TV named Kim Hurwitz CMO. 

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT

– No time off at Tesla? Adding to the growing list of allegations about problematic working conditions at Tesla, former workers now say they were penalized or fired for taking sick days and maternity leave. One customer care agent was fired after she used sick time offered to her by her colleagues to help with childcare—not knowing it was against Tesla’s policies. Telsa says its attendance policy doesn’t penalize workers for use of PTO. Guardian

– Lam’s fate in HK. Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam said yesterday that the controversial extradition bill that has prompted weeks of protest was “dead,” but didn’t move to withdraw the bill. As for her future in office? She says stepping down is not a “simple task.” “”I still have the passion to govern Hong Kong. I ask for Hong Kong people to give me the chance to continue to serve,” she said. CNN

– Saudi ambassador, stateside. Saudi Arabia’s first female ambassador, Princess Reema bint Bandar, presented her credentials to President Trump yesterday. “The Saudi-U.S. partnership is essential to the interests of both countries,” the ambassador, who lived in the U.S. for 20 years and graduated from George Washington University, said in a statement. The National

Clooney up. Journalist Maria Ressa has become a beacon in the fight for press freedom as she faces criminal charges for her work in the Philippines. Now Amal Clooney has joined her legal team. Guardian

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ON MY RADAR

Lady Gaga pitches her upcoming Amazon makeup line Fortune

Male indifference in Midsommar is the movie’s real horror MEL Magazine

Fear of a black mermaid Fortune

Lisa Taddeo’s Three Women examines the way men’s actions shape female desire Washington Post

QUOTE

Do you have something a little bit more challenging?

-BlackRock head of Europe, Middle East, and Africa Rachel Lord, when asked about gender diversity and meritocracy at the firm