Serena Williams is regarded by many as one of the greatest athletes of all time. Williams’ career is arguably unmatched with 23 Grand Slam wins underneath her belt and a slew of endorsement deals. Yet, the world-class athlete admitted that she felt “underpaid” and “undervalued” as a Black woman in tennis. Williams’ admission comes shortly after her withdrawal from the French Open due to an injured Achilles tendon.
During an interview for the upcoming British Vogue Nov. issue, the athlete spoke candidly about her treatment in the sporting world while applauding the Black Lives Matter movement for shedding light on deep-rooted racism that would otherwise go undetected. Williams also credited technology for highlighting racial discrimination.
“Now we as Black people have a voice, and technology has been a huge part of that,” Williams said. “We see things that have been hidden for years; the things that we as people have to go through. This has been happening for years. People just couldn’t pull out their phones and video it before. I think for a minute they — started not to understand because I don’t think you can understand — but they started to see.”
She continued, “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.”
But Williams said none of these challenges has affected how she sees herself. “But I’ve never been a person that has been like, ‘I want to be a different color’ or ‘I want my skin tone to be lighter.'” She added, “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.”
The 39-year-old also said, “tennis is a small play in the whole scheme of things,” as she opened up about her new investment firm and her plans to help women of color to have a voice in becoming future CEOS. “I launched Serena Ventures with the mission of giving opportunities to founders across an array of industries,” Williams said.
“In this society, women are not taught or expected to be that future leader or future CEO. The narrative has to change. And maybe it doesn’t get better in time for me, but someone in my position can show women and people of color 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.”