Serena Williams

Serena Williams' Advocacy for Women's Rights in Sports


Feb. 20 2024, Published 4:50 p.m. ET

As one of the greatest athletes of all time, Serena Williams is not just a role model for aspiring female athletes but also an advocate for women's rights in sports. She has used her platform for over two decades to push forward much-needed progress and inspire thousands of women worldwide. As we look back on Williams' incredible career, it is impossible to ignore how she has used her platform and power to fight for equality throughout all aspects of sports — particularly in areas where women have historically received little recognition or support. Her efforts include ensuring that female athletes receive equal pay, highlighting issues with body shaming, pushing for visibility for minority athletes, and creating organizations to provide opportunities for minority girls.

The Battle of Body Shaming in Sports

Serena Williams is a trailblazer in sports and an advocate for body positivity. As a Black woman in the predominantly white and male-dominated world of tennis, Williams has faced criticism and scrutiny for her physique. Her muscular yet voluptuous figure was a topic of conversation throughout her career. Female tennis players are mostly known for being slender, and Williams didn't feel like she fit in. She was also accused of using performance-enhancing drugs because of her strength and explosiveness on the court, which resulted in her feeling like she always had to prove herself more than her counterparts.

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After years of comparing herself to other tennis players, including her sister, Venus Williams, she credits her late half-sister, Yetunde, with helping her find confidence in her body. Williams said, "I was really struggling, and she's [Yetunde] like, "You know, everyone is different. You're not Venus, and you're never going to be Venus. You're never going to be as thin as her, and that's okay. And you're never going to be as tall as her, and that's okay. Nothing is wrong with that. You have a beautiful body on your own. You have a beautiful face". And that's when I first started being more comfortable with who I was." With her newfound confidence, Serena Williams became a sports fashion icon. From her bold and colorful outfits to her form-fitting catsuits, Serena has proven time and time again that women in sports, especially Black women, can be unapologetically themselves and still dominate their field.

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Equal Pay for Equal Work in Sports

As a female athlete, Serena has long been vocal about the need for equal pay in sports. Her advocacy has shed light on the pervasive issues of gender and race inequality in sports. Williams has pushed for equal pay, pointing out that "Black women earn 17% less than their white female counterparts and that Black women are paid 63% of the dollars men are paid." In 2007, she won Wimbledon and was the first female tennis player to receive the same pay as her male counterpart, Roger Federer. Her advocacy inspires a new generation of women to fight for their rights. With her unwavering determination, Serena Williams has become a symbol of hope and progress for women in sports.

Serena Williams' Advocacy Inspires Us All

As we can see, Serena Williams has done a lot for the cause of women's rights in sports, yet there is still much work to be done. Whether it is the battle against body shaming or achieving equal pay for equal work, every person should have an opportunity to participate and compete fairly. Serena Williams' legacy is a source of courage and inspiration to do what's right: be bold and stand up for what's right.

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