“Fighting for equality for thousand years,” Venus Williams opens up on her journey of equal pay in women’s tennis

The former World No.1 and one of the greats of the game Venus Williams has won a total of seven Grand Slam titles.

Venus Williams
Venus Williams, Roger Federer

Former World No.1 and one of the greats of the game, Venus Williams has always fought against several social adversities. While she was fierce on the court she was even a bigger fighter off it. Williams was one of the outspoken players who fought for pay parity in women’s tennis. She has always been a big flagbearer for pay equity for women in sports and she did make a huge difference on the circuit.

Venus Williams shared how playing at the Wimbledon from a young age was an eye opener for her. She said, “Getting there and realizing, ‘Wow, I’m not being paid equally,’ was just definitely a slap in the face to a 16-year-old. … It hit me hard.” She started her fight for equal pay in women’s tennis at the age of 25 and made a huge impact on the tennis circuit.

“Two short years later, after 30-plus years of fighting for equal prize money, we finally arrived. It was a wonderful moment,” she added. Currently, Venus Williams is training hard as she wants to make a return to the court after a prolonged break that she took after last year’s Wimbledon. She also featured at the Chicago Women’s Open but bowed out from the opening round.

My mother was my inspiration to bring the change: Venus Williams

Venus Williams
Venus Williams

The topic of equal pay was first brought up by Billie Jean King back in the 70s ad Venus Williams has carried that forward. In female sports USA star footballer Megan Rapinoe also has played a big role in helping the cause. Williams shared how women have been facing inequity for a long time as she shared examples of owing property and having credit cards. “We been fighting thousands of years of inequity, so we can’t think that [change] is going to happen overnight. We want it to, and we work at a pace so that it could be, theoretically, but it’s about changing minds, changing cultures, changing history, and it’s about not giving up,” she added.

Lastly the 41-year-old shared how her mother was her biggest inspiration to take up this social cause forward and work toward the change. “My mom was an inspiration,” says Williams. “She’s a wonderful, fun lady, strong lady, good tennis player and a great cook. She’s also very spiritually strong, so it gave us an opportunity to have belief and hope and to be calm and not be stressed about the regular worries of the day.” 

Venus Williams won her first Grand Slam at the Wimbledon back in 2000 when she was paid less than her male counterpart Pete Sampras. She won the Wimbledon seven years later again and became the first-ever woman to be paid equally as her male counterpart Roger Federer.

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