“Think I would die, if you were to ignore me,” Serena Williams sings, while staring straight into the camera and covering her breasts with both hands. But the tennis star isn’t singing about romance—she’s emphasizing the importance of early detection when it comes to breast cancer.
Williams partnered with the I Touch Myself Project to create the performance, a rendition of the 1990 song “I Touch Myself” by the Australian rock band Divinyls, in honor of Breast Cancer Awareness Month 2018. Christina Amphlett, the band’s front-woman, died in 2013 after battling breast cancer and multiple sclerosis. In 2014, a group of artists, including breast cancer survivor Olivia Newton-John, recorded a version of the song in Amphlett’s honor as an anthem for breast health around the world.
On her Instagram page, Williams explained that her goal for this project was “to remind women to self-check regularly.”
“Yes, this put me out of my comfort zone, but I wanted to do it because it’s an issue that affects all women of all colors, all around the world,” Williams wrote. “Early detection is key—it saves so many lives. I just hope this helps to remind women of that.”
According to Cancer Research UK, more than 90% of women who are diagnosed at the earliest stage of breast cancer survive the disease for at least five years, compared to only about 15% of women who are diagnosed at the most advanced stage. Breast Cancer Awareness Month lasts the whole of October, and you can learn how to conduct a breast self-exam here.