Serena Williams may be one of the wealthiest athletes in the world and the highest-paid female sports star according to Forbes, but the 23-time Grand Slam champion knows the impact of financial abuse. As such, she’s doing her part to help out.
For the third consecutive year, Williams has partnered with Allstate Foundation’s Purple Purse to put the spotlight on the issue of financial abuse. According to statistics from Purple Purse, which works to financially empower women to break the cycle of domestic abuse, 99 percent of domestic abuse cases involve financial abuse.
“That was such an incredibly high number,” Williams told Self magazine in a Sept. 26 story. “It is basically all cases [of domestic violence].”
Among the examples of how a domestic partner can abuse someone financially are setting strict limits on daily spending, stealing money and running up their credit card debt.
The issue isn’t something Williams has experienced first-hand, but it is something that she’s been impacted by after assisting a friend who was caught in an abusive circumstance.
“It’s really important to know the signs and educate yourself,” she said. “If you see them trying to handle your accounts, or trying to decide where you should spend money, or asking you for receipts, these are really big signs and red flags.”
Williams, a Purple Purse ambassador, appeared in a PSA to help women spot the signs and red flags of financial abuse.
“They deny you access to your bank accounts … they forbid you from working,” Williams says, adding that “financial abuse is one of the main reasons victims of domestic violence can’t leave.”
Speaking to People magazine in August when her PSA debuted, the tennis pro dove deeper into how her friend’s domestic abuse situation played out.
“I have a really, really close friend of mine who was involved in a domestic abuse situation and it was really difficult because she couldn’t see the signs … we all tried to tell her, we all tried to help her, but she just had to come to it on her own and see it on her own,” Williams said. “We had to let her know we were there, and partners and people that are doing this want to make you feel so alone and that no one loves you and no one cares about you.”
And the impact on Williams has now become even bigger since giving birth to her 1-year-old daughter, Olympia Ohanian.
“Having a daughter changes your outlook on so many things in the world,” Wiliams explained to Elle magazine last year. “The last year has really changed my already passionate mindset.”