Despite Serena Williams‘ immeasurable success as a sportswoman and being hands down, the greatest female tennis star of all time, the 39-year-old said she still feels “underpaid” and “undervalued” – particularly because of her gender and race.
The tennis star, who recently dropped out of the French Open due to an injury, made those comments in an interview with British Vogue for its November issue. During the sit-down, Williams lamented how she had to put in more work to achieve her status as one of the tennis greats, adding that never had it crossed her mind to try to conform despite the challenges.
“[But] I’ve never been a person that has been like, ‘I want to be a different colour’ or ‘I want my skin tone to be lighter,’” she said. “I like who I am, I like how I look, and I love representing the beautiful dark women out there. For me, it’s perfect. I wouldn’t want it any other way.”
Williams also explained how she’s on a mission to help provide the much needed support and assistance women of color have been lacking in the professional world through her companies.
“Tennis is a small play in the whole scheme of things,” she started. “In this society, women are not taught or expected to be that future leader or future CEO. The narrative has to change.”
She added: “And maybe it doesn’t get better in time for me, but someone in my position can show women and people of colour that we have a voice, because Lord knows I use mine. I love sticking up for people and supporting women. Being the voice that millions of people don’t have.”
The 23-time Grand Slam champion also touched on the impact of the current Black Lives Matter protests against police brutality and systemic racism that was triggered following the death of George Floyd, and how technology has been indispensable in bringing to light the injustices against Blacks in the United States.
“Now, we as Black people have a voice – and technology has been a huge part of that,” she said. “We see things that have been hidden for years; the things that we as people have to go through.”
Williams continued: “This has been happening for years. People just couldn’t pull out their phones and video it before… At the end of May, I had so many people who were white writing to me saying, ‘I’m sorry for everything you’ve had to go through.’ I think for a minute they started – not to understand, because I don’t think you can understand – but they started to see.”
“I was like: well, you didn’t see any of this before? I’ve been talking about this my whole career. It’s been one thing after another.”