When Serena Williams leads, she does so with women in mind, particularly Black women. Throughout the years we’ve witnessed the tennis legend advocate for us and call out a number of issues we face when it comes to our careers.
From equal pay down to the double standards we face when revealing our emotions in public (more on that later), Williams never backs down from a fight. Ahead are a few moments Williams used her celebrity to stand up for Black women:
She invests in women of color founders…period!
The tennis superstar puts her money where her advocacy is and invests in women of color entrepreneurs. Williams is not new to investing in women-owned businesses; her Serena Ventures backs 30 businesses including women-owned companies Brandless, The Wing, and Billie. However, her latest announcement as the new advisor for Bumble, a women-first dating, and social app, she will invest in the Bumble fund that financial backs women of color start-ups. Her commitment is right on time as surveys show that less than 1 percent of Black women founders get VC funding.
She never steals another woman’s shine.
During the 2018 U.S. Open women’s championship match against Naomi Osaka, we witnessed the 23-time Grand Slam champion demand respect firsthand.
Williams exchanged words with umpire Carlos Ramos who gave the tennis player three on-court violations that Williams deemed to be motivated by sexism. The emotional match led to crowd heckling during the trophy ceremony in which Williams stepped up to defend Osaka’s win. “I know you guys were here rooting, and I was rooting too. But let’s make this the best moment we can, and we’ll get through it. Let’s give everyone the credit where credit’s due. Let’s not boo anymore. We’re gonna get through this, and let’s be positive. So congratulations, Naomi! No more booing,” Williams told the crowd. Despite how the tennis veteran felt about the umpire calls during the game she made sure Osaka had her moment to take in her win.
She calls out double standards.
Speaking of the 2018 U.S. Open incident, the six-time Open champion also called out the double standard for players showing emotions during games. Her demand for respect in the form of an apology from umpire Ramos resulted in a fine and criticism for her response to his calls. Williams was given a $17,000 for disputing her penalties. Since then she’s spoken out about the unfair treatment and expectations many Black women face in the sport and beyond. “Funny how a Black female tennis player is held to a higher standard to keep her emotions in check than a Supreme Court nominee,” Williams told GQ in November of 2018.
She supports equal pay for all women athletes.
Williams is rooting for all women athletes. Recently the U.S. women’s national soccer team filed a lawsuit against their federation for gender discrimination and equal pay. As an advocate for equal pay for women tennis players, Williams supports the team’s decision. The soccer team currently includes five Black players. “I think at some point, in every sport, you have to have those pioneers and maybe it’s time for soccer,” she told reporters during a press conference at BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells. “I’m playing because someone else stood up and so what they are doing right now is
Wardrobe policing doesn’t stop her body positivity.
For years, Williams has been criticized about her curves, her hair