Serena Williams On Addressing Racist Comments About Her Baby: ‘It’s Really Important To Hold Women Up’
Mike Hewitt

This article originally appeared on People

Following offensive, “racist” comments made about her unborn child, Serena Williams says it’s important to lift women up.

At a press conference last week, former world No. 1 tennis star Ilie Nastase was overheard making inappropriate comments about Williams’ baby, telling a reporter: “Let’s see what color it has. Chocolate with milk?” reports ESPN.

Williams addressed the hurtful commentary during a TED talk in Vancouver on Tuesday.

“I’ve been really supportive of my peers and the people that I work with. I’ve been a pro for almost 20 years,” she said. “For me it’s really important to hold women up. It’s something, these young women they’ll come to the locker room, they’ll want to take pictures with me. For me, I want to be a good leader and a good example for them.”

“Not only did he have rude things to say about me and then my peers, I felt it was important for us to stand up for each other and to stand up for myself.”

Subscribe to our daily newsletter for the latest in hair, beauty, style and celebrity news.

One week ago, the mother-to-be captioned an accidental Snapchat bikini pic showing her baby bump “20 weeks.”

Later that same day, Williams’ rep confirmed to PEOPLE that she and her fiancé, Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian, will welcome their first child in the fall. “I’m happy to confirm Serena is expecting a baby this fall,” the rep said.

When ESPN initially reported Nastase’s hateful comments, Williams penned a response on social media.

“It disappoints me to know we live in a society where people like Ilie Nastase can make such racist comments towards myself and unborn child, and sexist comments against my peers,” the 35-year-old athlete wrote on Instagram.

She added: “I have said it once and I’ll say it again, this world has come so far but yet we have so much further to go. Yes, we have broken down so many barriers — however there are a plethora more to go. This or anything else will not stop me from pouring love, light and positivity into everything that I do. I will continue to take a lead and stand up for what’s right.”

And on Tuesday, the pregnant tennis champ opened up about her pregnancy (and admitted her announcement was an accident!) to Gayle King at a Ted Talks conference held inside the Vancouver Convention Centre.

“Well, actually it was an accident. I was on vacation just taking some time for myself and I have this thing where I’ve been checking my status and taking pictures every week to see how far along I’m going,” she said. “I didn’t tell a lot of people to be quite honest and I’d been saving it. On social media, you press the wrong button and … Thirty minutes later I missed four calls and I’m like, ‘That’s weird.’ But it was a good moment. I was only going to wait five or six more days [to share].”

TOPICS: