Wimbledon 2016: Venus Williams on Gender Equality in Sports
Venus Williams is far more than a legendary tennis champion.
The 7-time Grand Slam singles title holder spent years in her sport rallying for equal pay among both the men and women. And guess what, Williams, through her collaboration with the Women’s Tennis Association, a 2006 Op-Ed titled “Venus Williams On Equal Pay at Wimbledon,” and her famed play on the court, she got tennis’ biggest tournament to erase the pay gap.
In 2007, two years after Williams first solo win at the All England Club, the chairman of the tournament finally said it was time to “eliminate the difference” in pay, an unprecedented move.
That may have been almost a decade ago, but what Williams accomplished has never been more relevant. With Wimbledon underway today, Williams recently spoke to ABC News, reflecting on what she accomplished and how far the rest of sports still has to go.
“Tennis is definitely a star for women in sports,” she said when asked about her leadership in the equal pay movement. “[But] other sports have a long way to go.”
Williams, now 36, added that the “world [and sports] reflect where women are” in it, and that “there’s always work to be done.”
Just this past March, U.S. women’s soccer filed a wage-discrimination complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.
The filing, obtained by ESPN, cited how much more revenue women in soccer generate than men, despite the fact they are paid “almost four times less,” ESPN reported.
In spite of the large discrepancies in sports like soccer, Williams admitted there are positive things happening.
“As long as we set up equality, we’ll go in the right direction,” she said.
In an interview with ESPN two years ago, Williams said about her efforts a decade back, “A lot of players were not comfortable talking about equal prize money for whatever reason, or maybe weren’t able to express exactly how they felt. But I was.”
Williams has never been afraid to say what’s on her mind and when asked by ABC News about substances, banned or legal, as they pertain to tennis, she had a simple answer.
“It’s something that you just have to be aware of,” she said. “Athletes like everyone else, at times take supplements, but just have to consult your doctors and work on that. It’s a process but it’s achievable … it’s my job to be healthy.”
Williams spoke to ABC News as part of a campaign with Silk, promoting a plant-based diet, so what an athlete puts into his or her body is something she takes seriously.
Maria Sharapova was not brought up by name, but the famed tennis champion was in the news earlier this month, after receiving a two-year suspension for taking a substance that was added to the banned list in January.
When asked about the evolving and changing list, Williams said, “It’s updated every year, so you have to stay abreast the best you can.”
At a press conference on June 8, Sharapova said she “did not” intentionally take the banned substance.