The tennis champ penned a moving essay for Fortune magazine in order to “acknowledge the many realities black women face every day” — including that black women make 63 cents for every dollar a white man earns, according to research from the National Women’s Law Center.
“Together, we will change the story — but we are going to have to fight for every penny,” Williams wrote in the essay, which was published Monday. “Growing up, I was told I couldn’t accomplish my dreams because I was a woman and, more so, because of the color of my skin. In every stage of my life, I’ve had to learn to stand up for myself and speak out. I have been treated unfairly, I’ve been disrespected by my male colleagues and — in the most painful times — I’ve been the subject of racist remarks on and off the tennis court. Luckily, I am blessed with an inner drive and a support system of family and friends that encourage me to move forward. But these injustices still hurt.”
The 35-year-old elite athlete acknowledged she’s in the “rare position” of being “financially successful,” but noted that Monday, which is Black Women’s Equal Pay Day, wasn’t about her.
“It’s about the other 24 million black women in America. If I never picked up a tennis racket, I would be one of them; that is never lost on me” her essay continued. “The cycles of poverty, discrimination and sexism are much, much harder to break than the record for Grand Slam titles.
“For every black woman that rises through the ranks to a position of power, there are too many others who are still struggling.”
Williams joined SurveyMonkey’s board of directors to help effect change on this particular issue.
“Black women: Be fearless. Speak out for equal pay,” she wrote, ending her essay on a powerful note. “Every time you do, you’re making it a little easier for a woman behind you. Most of all, know that you’re worth it … Let’s get back those 37 cents.”