The 23-time Grand Slam champion, who was defeated by Simona Halep at the Wimbledon women’s singles final on Saturday, was addressing reporters at a post-match press conference when she was questioned about her focus on the sport.
A reporter asked the Nike athlete to speak about fellow tennis legend Billie Jean King’s recent remarks that she should “stop being a celebrity for a year” and “stop fighting for equality” — instead, devoting all her energy to winning another title.
To that, Williams responded unflinchingly, “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,” she said.
The No. 11 seed hasn’t won a Grand Slam title since the 2017 Australian Open when she defeated her sister, Venus.
After Williams’ reaction made the rounds, King took to Twitter to defend her comments during an interview conducted late last month. “I 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,” she wrote.
King had originally said, “She’s got business, a baby. She’s trying to help gender equity — particularly for women of color. She’s actually on the Billie Jean King leadership initiative; she and Venus are both advisors for it. [It makes winning a Slam] much harder. I would like to see her put everything else aside from that. She’s got people working on these things.”
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