Serena Williams has taken aim at the “ludicrous” gender pay gap debate that is raging in the United States.
Williams has spoken in support of the United States women’s football team (USWNT) over a reported legal battle for equal pay with the men’s side.
On International Women’s Day, it was reported that the USWNT had filed a discrimination lawsuit against the United States Soccer Federation relating to equal pay and working conditions.
Also on Friday, Adidas announced the winning team at the Women’s World Cup in France this year will receive the same bonus as their male counterparts, promoting the motto: “Equal pay for equal play”.
Tennis star Williams described it as “ludicrous” that there should be a pay discrepancy between the US women’s team – who have been crowned world champions three times, most recently four years ago in Canada – and the men’s side.
The 37-year-old compared the reported complaint to the campaign by female tennis stars in the 1970s, including Billie Jean King, who successfully lobbied for the US Open to become the first major to offer equal prize money to men and women in 1973.
“I don’t follow soccer as much,” she told reporters in Indian Wells.
“I do know that the pay discrepancy is ludicrous. It’s a battle, it’s a fight.
“You know, we’ve had some incredible pioneers in our sport that stood up in the 70s and said, with this dollar, there were 13 women who said ‘we’re gonna get paid what the men [are] paid’. And they stood up way back then.
“I think at some point in every sport you have to have those pioneers and maybe it’s the time for soccer. I’m playing because someone else stood up and so what they’re doing right now is hopefully for the future of women’s soccer.”
Serena sizzles on International Women’s Day
Williams and Victoria Azarenka sent social media into a spin after a gripping battle fitting of its blockbuster billing on International Women’s Day.
The two tennis mums provided a fitting way to fly the flag for women after taking centre stage in their second round Indian Wells showdown.
However, it was Williams who progressed to the next round courtesy of a 7-5 6-3 win.
Before the match, Williams penned a wonderful letter to commemorate International Women’s Day.
The heartfelt piece saw the 37-year-old open up about her own challenging experiences of what it takes to be a mother.
“In our fast-paced world, expectations for women continue to rise, as do workplace demands and, unfortunately, double standards,” she wrote.
“Navigating it all is especially tough for working moms, myself included —- I feel the pressure both on and off the court.
“Even with all the resources I’m incredibly blessed to have, motherhood comes with so many unexpected challenges, especially when it’s time to go back to work.”
“Now that I have Olympia, she is my absolute priority… But I’m still training to win Grand Slams and sometimes I have to make hard choices about how I spend my time.”
“I’ve cried over Olympia so many times that I’ve lost count,” she continued. “I cried when I stopped breastfeeding. I sat with Olympia in my arms, I talked to her, we prayed about it, and I told her, ‘Mommy has to do this.’ I cried when I missed Olympia’s first steps because I was in training.”
“I’m honest about my struggles as a working mom because I want other women out there to know they are not alone,” she added.
“We have to show ourselves and our female counterparts compassion and reality.”