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Venus Williams Ignites Support, Controversy for Not Identifying as Feminist

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(Photo by Zhong Zhi/Getty Images)

Venus Williams has done well for herself as a tennis star and she’s earned several titles as a result. While “seven-time Grand Slam winner” and “five-time Wimbledon champion” are among them, a title she won’t claim is “feminist.”

“I don’t like labels,” she told Elle U.K. via the Daily Mail. “Though I do think as women we have much more power and opportunities in our hands than ever before. We truly don’t know how powerful we are. There’s nothing like a powerful woman walking into a room; her presence is like nothing else.”

On the subject of equality and women’s rights, Williams said a conversation surrounding the former “was never there.” Still, she acknowledges women face negativity.

“There are always challenges that you have to overcome on a daily basis,” she said. “Unfortunately, people have the tendency to want to dominate one another, but fortunately, there are people who want to build other women up. It’s up to those people who want to build to hopefully eliminate all that negativity.”

And Williams has a built-in supporter to build her up through younger sister Serena Williams.

The subject of “Being Serena” said her sister’s best attributes include “just how incredibly strong and powerful she is – she is a true overachiever.

“She’s one of the best tennis players in the world and still always has that desire to continue to better herself,” Serena added.

She also applauded her sister’s ability to overcome her health struggles while still being one of the best athletes. Venus battles the immune-system disorder Sjögren’s syndrome yet has continued to be a fierce competitor in tennis, even beating sister Serena at Indian Wells in March despite past setbacks.

“Venus is someone who has overcome so many obstacles — from tennis to her health — and she runs two businesses,” Serena said.” She faces obstacles every day. I think that everything she’s gone through, from age 18 to now, has shaped her to become the amazing woman she is.”

And Venus herself has recognized her own strength among a growing number of emerging stars.

“There are so many emerging forces; there’s been so much growth for women in sports. It’s very exciting ‘You have to be able to stand up for what you believe in and I think I’ve done a good job. I guess I don’t have too many regrets.”

In response to Venus’ feminist label rejection, several people have chimed in.

“Good for you, Venus!!” someone said.

Someone else offered, “[I] think most people that call themselves feminists mean they generally agree with most of the issues that crop up instead of actually doing anything. I bet if you presented Venus with a lot of the situations, like harassment, she’d obviously side with feminism, it’s human rights.”

“A lot of women aren’t feminists,” another person tweeted. “It’s perfectly fine.”

“Being a feminist is not a label, it’s about believing that men and women should have equal rights! Simple!” a separate user said.


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