- Serena Williams addressed gender equality at a press conference following her Wimbledon loss to Simona Halep on Saturday, saying: “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.”
- Williams had been 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.
- Williams has been outspoken about her fight for gender and racial equality for years.
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Serena Williams said she would fight for equality until the day she dies at a press conference following her Wimbledon loss to Simona Halep on Saturday.
During a post-match press conference, Williams 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.
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?”
Seven-time Wimbledon winner and 23-time grand slam champion Williams responded by saying she wouldn’t push equality aside.
People: You should stop fighting for equality and just focus on tennis. Serena: The day I stop doing that is the day I die. GOAT ????!!! pic.twitter.com/W0hKFU5m6R
— Chris Williamson (@CWilliamson44) July 13, 2019
“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.
King later said on Twitter that she would “never ask anyone to stop fighting for equality,” in reference to Williams’s comment.
I would never ask anyone to stop fighting for equality. In everything she does, Serena shines a light on what all of us must fight for in order to achieve equality for all.
— Billie Jean King (@BillieJeanKing) July 13, 2019
Williams has been outspoken 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 wrote about it for Fortune in 2017, focusing on women of color in the working world.
“I’d like to acknowledge the many realities black women face every day,” she wrote for Fortune. “To recognize that women of color 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 herself launched the Billie Jean King Leadership Initiative in 2014, calling for gender equality.
In 2018, Williams and her sister, Venus Williams, joined the King Initiative in pushing for the Grand Slam Board to pay male and female players equally, according to USA Today.
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