I Will Bat For Equality Till The Day I’m In My Grave: Serena Williams
Wimbledon loss is hard to recover after all it was Serena Williams’ long-term ambition of equalling Margaret Court’s Grand Slam title record, but her quest to fight for equality until the day she dies is never-ending. At a recent press conference following her Wimbledon loss to Simona Halep on Saturday, the Tennis star and the 23 Grand Slam winner was asked about comments made by tennis great Billie Jean King, who suggested Williams “give up being a celebrity for a year and a half” to focus entirely on the sport. And, the stunner’s reply is winning hearts!
“She’s got a baby, she’s trying to help gender equity, particularly women of colour. But it makes it much harder,” 12-times Grand Slam champion King told the BBC.
A journalist asked Williams, “There have been a few comments in the last couple of weeks from people like Billie Jean King, that maybe you should stop being a celebrity for a year, and stop fighting for equality, and just focus on tennis. How do you respond to that?” To which the champion responded by saying that she would never stop pushing for equality to focus solely on her tennis.
“The day I stop fighting for equality and for people that look like you and me will be the day I’m in my grave,” she told the reporter, who was also a woman.
Responding in reference to her comments, King later said on Twitter that she would “never ask anyone to stop fighting for equality.”
Williams is the prime sportsperson who has been vocal about her fight for gender and racial equality for years. In 2016, she wrote an open letter for Porter’s Magazine addressing the issue, and again was outspoken for the same for Fortune in 2017, focusing on women of colour in the working world.
“I’d like to acknowledge the many realities black women face every day,” she wrote for Fortune. “To recognise that women of colour have to work — on average — eight months longer to earn the same as their male counterparts do in one year. To bring attention to the fact that black women earn 17% less than their white female counterparts and that black women are paid 63% of the dollar men are paid. Even black women who have earned graduate degrees get paid less at every level. This is as true in inner cities as it is in Silicon Valley.”
King launched the Billie Jean King Leadership Initiative in 2014, advocating for gender equality.
“To bring attention to the fact that black women earn 17% less than their white female counterparts and that black women are paid 63% of the dollar men are paid.”
In 2018, Williams and her sister, Venus Williams, came together and joined the initiative in order to pushing the Grand Slam Board to pay male and female players equally, according to USA Today.
At 37, Serena Williams was the oldest woman to reach a Grand Slam final in the professional era as she crushed into Wimbledon Final. She missed out on the chance to equal Australian Court’s record on two occasions since returning from giving birth to her daughter – losing last year’s Wimbledon final and then controversial defeat in the US Open final. But again Saturday’s Wimbledon Final was heart-breaking as she was dashed with a crushing straight sets defeat by Romanian Simona Halep, and yet again missed out on equalling Margaret Court’s all-time record of 24 Grand Slam titles.