Serena Williams has always put up a strong stance against racism, and has been a fierce advocate for equality throughout her career. And that has now come to the fore again, in the aftermath of the gruesome incident where George Floyd, an African-American, was murdered by a white police officer.
Passionate protests have taken place all around the world over the past couple of weeks, and the tennis community - led by Serena Williams, with support from Naomi Osaka, Frances Tiafoe and Coco Gauff - have also raised their voices condemning systemic racism.
The likes of Novak Djokovic, Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal also showed their support for the 'BlackoutTuesday' campaign last week, putting up a black square on their social media handles to show solidarity.
Serena Williams continued her campaign against injustice yesterday, as she went live on Instagram to interview her husband and co-founder of Reddit Alexis Ohanian. Ohanian has made headlines with his decision to step down from the Reddit board, and Serena revealed what she felt about the widely-praised gesture.
During the 'Serena Saturdays' session, Williams also talked about the racial discrimination she has had to face throughout her life - both personally and professionally.
Serena Williams has always spoken out against racial marginalization and oppression meted out to people of color, and has been one of the firmest voices of protest in lieu of the George Floyd murder. During the Instagram chat, the 38-year-old relayed her experiences and the various challenges she has had to face - despite being one of the best athletes in the world.
"A lot of people don't know my whole life I've had to deal with so many different challenges. I've had to deal with a lot of inequality; I've had to deal with racism," Serena confessed.
The issue of racial discrimination isn't something new, but has been an issue for centuries. Representing the modern-day black woman's fight against injustice, Serena Williams has navigated past a ton of obstacles to become the champion that she is today.
"And honestly, sadly it has become, unfortunately, somewhat of a norm for people that have my skin color. It's something I ultimately think that systematically we just have to deal with," Serena explained.
The world poses a different set of challenges when you are a person of colour, and even a 23-time Slam champion is not immune to them. Serena Williams revealed that in times of particular difficulty, she has relied on her faith in God to pull through. She also talked about unequal pay in tennis and how the sport had very little diversity when she arrived on the scene.
"It's sad that someone on my level has had to accept being paid less...so many different things because of the color of my skin...I entered a sport that was all white and it definitely wasn't easy looking back," Williams recounted.
"It all really just boiled down to my faith and realizing that all this is temporary. What I believe and what the Bible teaches, is that there is so much more waiting if we exercise faith," she added.
"I wouldn't be me if I wasn't black" - Serena Williams
Joining in the fight against racial inequality, Serena's husband, Alexis Ohanian dramatically stepped down from the Reddit board and asked for his seat to be represented by a black candidate instead. Additionally, Ohanian, father to Serena's daughter Olympia, promised to donate all future gains from his Reddit shares 'to serve the black community'.
During the Instagram session, Serena Williams asserted that Ohanian's decision was his own and that she hadn't influence him in any way.
"This is all Alexis, which is really cool," Williams said. "A lot of people might think I told you to do something, or that I forced you, or that I was in your ear, have you heard that? He doesn't listen to me ever."
Williams went on to explain how she has had to take the "high road" in a lot of situations, and how even to this day she has to put up with discrimination. But she added that she's proud of her skin color, and that she wouldn't have been where she is today if she hadn't been black.
"I've always been proud of who I am, to be black...I wouldn't be who I am, I wouldn't be as strong as I am, I wouldn't have been able to be as amazing as I have been in my career so far. I wouldn't be me if I wasn't black," Serena stated.Published 07 Jun 2020, 15:54 IST