Serena Williams calls out gender bias toward female athletes in new Nike ad

Photo credit: Clive Brunskill - Getty Images
Photo credit: Clive Brunskill - Getty Images

From Harper's BAZAAR

Sporting life hasn't always been good for female athletes-just ask Serena Williams.

Last September, while competing for her 24th Grand Slam title against Naomi Osaka, Williams was handed three code violations that led to a dispute between the tennis star and umpire Carlos Ramos, culminating with Williams' shocking Grand Slam defeat and debates about sexism in sports. Would things have turned out differently if it was a male athlete? Serena seems to think so, and in a new Nike ad titled "Dream Crazier," Serena calls out gender bias in sports and gives "crazy" a whole new meaning.

Williams narrates the emotional advert as footage of female athletes crying or disputing calls appear on the screen. "If we show emotion, we're called dramatic. If we want to play against men, we're nuts. And if we dream of equal opportunity-delusional. When we stand for something, we're unhinged. If we're too good, there's something wrong with us," she says. "And if we get angry, we're hysterical, irrational, or just being crazy."

In the "Dream Crazier" ad, Serena and Nike celebrate women in sports (including Olympic gold medalist Simone Biles, Ibtihaj Muhammad, Chloe Kim, and members of the US Women’s National Soccer Team) and the inspiring feats they've accomplished, no matter how "crazy" it may seem to others. From a woman coaching an NBA team or dunking a basketball to "winning 23 grand slams, having a baby, and then coming back for more," Serena advises women to "show them what crazy can do".

Following her controversial Grand Slam loss, Serena called out double standards in sports.

"I’ve seen other men call other umpires several things," Williams explained. "I’m here fighting for women’s rights and for women’s equality and for all kinds of stuff. For me to say ‘thief,’ and for him to take a game, it made me feel like it was a sexist remark. He’s never taken a game from a man because they said thief."

Before that, Serena was criticised for wearing a black catsuit during the French Open, a compression garment worn to help manage her blood clots. The French Tennis Federation ended up banning catsuits as a result. Bernard Giudicelli, the president of the French Tennis Federation, told Tennis magazine, “It will no longer be accepted. One must respect the game and the place,” he said. “I think that sometimes we’ve gone too far.”

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