Serena Williams Vows That She'll Continue Her Fight for Equality Until She's 'in My Grave'

Serena Williams has always been outspoken about her fight for women's rights and equality in the past

Serena Williams clapped back at critics who suggested she stay quiet about social issues and focus instead on playing tennis.

At a press conference on Saturday after losing the Wimbledon ladies’ singles final, the outspoken athlete, 37, told reporters that she would remain committed to using her platform for good — saying, “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,” according to video captured by ESPN.

Of course, this isn’t news to anyone who follows Williams. The mom to 1½-year-old daughter Olympia has always been outspoken about her fight for women’s rights and equality, using moments like her loss at the U.S. Open in September to spark conversations about sexism and racism in the sport.

She’s received support along the way from the Women’s Tennis Association and other tennis greats like Billie Jean King, who praised Williams in a Washington Post op-ed in September for “standing up for herself.”

However, in June, King made headlines when she appeared to advise Williams to reset her priorities.

[Serena’s] got a baby, she’s trying to help gender equity, particularly women of color,” King, 75, told the WTA of Williams, noting how the athlete was stretched in many directions, including working on King’s own Billie Jean King Leadership Initiative. “It makes it much harder.”

“I would like her to put everything else aside because she’s got people working on those things,” King said. “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.’ ”

King added: “If she’s happy doing it this way, then that’s fine. It’s whatever makes her happy, it’s not about us.”

After Williams’ remarks on Saturday, King clarified what she meant, insisting she supports Williams.

“I would never ask anyone to stop fighting for equality,” King tweeted. “In everything she does, Serena shines a light on what all of us must fight for in order to achieve equality for all.”

Williams — who has been battling ongoing injuries in 2019, and has had to withdraw from multiple tournaments, including the Miami Open — lost the 2019 Wimbledon ladies’ championship match to 27-year-old Simona Halep.

Going into the match, Halep was ranked seventh in the world, while Williams trailed her at 11th. Williams is a seven-time Wimbledon champion, while the final marked her first at Wimbledon for Halep, who only just won her first major tournament last year at the 2018 French Open.

Although she didn’t end up winning on Saturday, Williams made history before the final even started. According to ESPN, the star athlete has reached at least one major final in 12 consecutive years, which is the second-longest such streak by a woman in the Open era.

Last year, Williams lost the ladies’ singles championship at Wimbledon to German player Angelique Kerber.

Despite the loss, Williams — who got emotional — remained positive, telling the crowd at the time, “It was such an amazing tournament for me. I was really hoping to get this far. It’s obviously disappointing, but I can’t be disappointed. I have so much to look forward to. I’m literally just getting started.”

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