Serena Williams won her 22nd Grand Slam title on Saturday at Wimbledon, defeating Angelique Kerber 7–5, 6–3 in the final. While all major wins are significant, this one carried a bit more weight because it allowed her to tie Steffi Graf atop the list of most major victories in the Open Era. It was, to put it mildly, a huge deal.
However, Serena’s biggest statements of the day might have come off of the court.
We already knew that Serena was keeping an eye on what has been happening in the United States this week because of a tweet she sent on Thursday about the death of Philando Castile, but she elaborated on racial tensions in America after defeating Kerber.
“I don’t think that the answer is to continue to shoot our young black men in the United States,” she said, as reported by Ben Rothenberg.
I feel anyone in my color in particular is of concern. I do have nephews that I’m thinking, Do I have to call them and tell them, ‘Don’t go outside. If you get in your car, it might be the last time I see you.’
That is something that I think is of great concern, because it will be devastating. They’re very good kids. I don’t think that the answer is to continue to shoot our young black men in the United States. It’s just unfortunate. Or just black people in general.
Also, obviously, violence is not the answer of solving it. The shooting in Dallas was very sad. No one deserves to lose their life, doesn’t matter what color they are, where they’re from. We’re all human. We have to learn that we have to love one another. It’s going to take a lot of education and a lot of work, I think, to get to that point.
But I think, in general, the entire situation is extremely sad, especially for someone like me. It’s something that is very painful to see happening.
She didn’t stop her pleas for equality there, though. Serena also spoke up about the importance of being a role model, and how she was able to achieve her dreams despite coming from a poor family on the streets of Compton.
Then, she once again reminded everyone not to look down on female athletes just because they’re women. She wants for women in sports to be treated with just as much respect as the men in sports are.
I’ve been given such a great opportunity, I’ve been given so much talent. I’ve been put in a position where I can inspire females, ladies, and men as well. Anyone, any kid out there that wants to be something, has dreams.
I’ve had great dreams. I didn’t come from any money or anything, but I did have a dream and I did have hope. That’s really all you need.
We shouldn’t put any female athlete in a box. Why do we have to be limited to just female athletes? We all work really hard. We just want to be known as just athletes.
This was in-line with what she had said earlier in the week, when she defended equal prize money (again) and said she wanted to be known as one of the best athletes of all time, not just one of the best female athletes.
Q There's talk about you going down as one of the greatest female athletes.
Serena: "I prefer 'one of the greatest athletes of all time'"
— Mark Masters (@markhmasters) July 7, 2016
All of these statements individually are powerful, but together, combined with her record-smashing success on the court as a black woman in a sport that is run by men and overwhelmingly white, they prove that Serena’s status as an icon transcends the confines of tennis, and permeates throughout our society.
Fittingly, the BBC aired a tribute to Serena’s greatness on Saturday that featured the 34-year-old reading the poem “Still I Rise,” by Maya Angelou. She said that the poem served as an inspiration for her throughout this fortnight, and it’s not hard to see why.
FacebookEdit descriptionwww.facebook.comYou may write me down in historyWith your bitter, twisted lies,You may trod me in the very dirtBut still, like dust, I’ll rise.
Just like moons and like suns,With the certainty of tides,Just like hopes springing high,Still I’ll rise.
Out of the huts of history’s shameI riseUp from a past that’s rooted in painI riseI’m a black ocean, leaping and wide,Welling and swelling I bear in the tide.
Leaving behind nights of terror and fearI riseInto a daybreak that’s wondrously clearI riseBringing the gifts that my ancestors gave,I am the dream and the hope of the slave.I riseI riseI rise.
Carmelo Anthony Issues A Powerful Plea To Fellow Athletes In The Wake Of ViolenceSports by CREDIT: Patrick Semansky, AP Most Americans are still trying to process the horror of the last few days, from…thinkprogress.org