Robin Roberts grew up with the hope she’d compete at Wimbledon one day, and although she may have never made it onto the court, she says her dreams absolutely came true.
“On that hot and steamy tennis court in Mississippi I would dream of being at Wimbledon… Well you know what? I did get to Wimbledon,” Roberts says. “I didn’t have a tennis racket in my hands, I had an ESPN microphone. It still was every bit as gratifying.”
For the longtime journalist, being creative and flexible with her initial goal of being a star athlete is how she was able to find a new path to success. “I want to be a professional athlete … [but] there’s this little thing called ability and I didn’t quite have it,” she shares. “Everyone always says, ‘Follow your passion.’ Well I’m passionate about sports. I had an interest in journalism and I thought I’d marry the two. Quickly it changed, though, to being passionate about journalism and storytelling and that sports was just one of my many interests.”
Roberts, 54, would eventually go from a few local news stations to ESPN to ABC where she’s been an anchor for Good Morning America since 2005. “It was a really big deal for me to leap from sports to news and Billie Jean King helped me make that decision. She was the one who really encouraged me that this is a wonderful platform and I [can] still talk about sports,” she says. “One of the best things that could’ve happened to get me where I’m sitting in this [GMA] chair was Diane Sawyer and Charlie Gibson. I was coming from the sports world, I was the sidekick, and they were extremely generous, loving and supportive and really helped me. It was sink or swim back then and they threw me a life preserver and I’m grateful to them.”
Reflecting on her successful career thus far, Roberts adds, “I’m a black, gay woman. You’ve got to think differently and things are going to be difficult. I’m not crying about it and I’m not whining about it. I acknowledge and say to myself … find a way and I think that’s what I’ve done all my life I’ve found a way to achieve goals that I’ve set for myself.”
Watch episode 1 of My Journey above for more from Roberts as she talks in-depth about the people — and one woman in particular who brings her to tears — who have been instrumental in her path to success.