Serena Williams just lost the Wimbledon final, but that won’t stop her from fighting another battle — against inequality.
During a press conference after her match against champion Simona Halep on Saturday, a reporter asked Williams about comments made by fellow tennis icon Billie Jean King that Williams should put her activism aside and focus on tennis.
Williams didn’t stand for it.
“The day I stop fighting for equality and for people that look like you and me will be the day I’m in my grave,” the 23-time Grand Slam champion said.
In June, King said Williams was doing too much and would have to hunker down and focus on tennis if she wanted to win at Wimbledon. The comments did not appear to be ill willed.
“She’s got a baby, she’s trying to help gender equity, particularly women of color,” King said. “But it makes it much harder. I would like her to put everything else aside, because she’s got people working on those things. I wish she would just make a commitment for the next year-and-a-half to two years and say, I’m going to absolutely focus on what’s necessary for my tennis, so when I look in the mirror when I’m older then I can go back in my mind and know I gave it everything I had.”
After the press conference on Saturday, King tweeted that she “would never ask anyone to stop fighting for equality.”
“In everything she does, Serena shines a light on what all of us must fight for in order to achieve equality for all,” King wrote.
Williams has struggled with injuries recently and has also begun other ventures outside of tennis. In addition to having a baby in 2017, Williams publicly announced her investment firm — Serena Ventures — earlier this year and has been vocal in the gender pay gap fight in tennis.
In an essay published by Fortunate Magazine in 2017, the star brought attention to the difficulties black women face in the workplace, using her own experiences on the court as an example.
“The cycles of poverty, discrimination, and sexism are much, much harder to break than the record for Grand Slam titles,” she wrote.