If you only caught snippets of the Academy Awards on Sunday, you may have missed a powerful message from tennis legend Serena Williams.
In a Nike ad titled “Until We All Win,” Williams ticks off all the negatives she has heard over her career, blistering comments that have inspired her rather than hold her back.
“I’ve never been the right kind of woman,” she says in a voice-over. “Oversized and overconfident. Too mean if I don’t smile. Too black for my tennis whites. Too motivated for motherhood. But I am proving, time and time again, there’s no wrong way to be a woman.”
She acknowledges that she now has “a huge platform” at her fingertips, something that wasn’t on her mind when her career began. Throughout her career, Williams has increasingly found her voice, speaking out about social issues like gender and racial inequality.
“Over time, I became much more conscious of the impact I had, and I became more conscious of what I had to do to make a difference,” she told AdWeek about the Nike commercial. “I embrace being a leader and continuing to pave the way for the next generation.”
Her hope is to break down “barriers” to gender and pay equality, something that has long been a problem in tennis.
“It doesn’t happen overnight,” she said in the statement. “It takes a lot of work and I’m going to keep on going and working at it, and I encourage others to use their voice and their platforms to do that same.”
She also wants to make the world a better place for her daughter, Alexis Olympia.
“I want my daughter to be truthful and honest, strong and powerful; to realize that she can impact those around her,” she said in the AdWeek statement. “I want her to grow up knowing a woman’s voice is extremely powerful. As females, we need to continue to be loud and make sure we are heard.”