Serena Williams has been busy lately, stepping on stage Sunday evening to present a Best Picture nomination at the Oscars. However, everyone is praising her for a different reason. During the ceremony, Nike aired a powerful and inspirational advertisement with Williams as the narrator. The advertisement discusses the journey female athletes take while on the road to success and their fight against double standards. Williams addresses the criticism female athletes face for showing emotion, seeming too passionate, or for fighting for equal opportunity, according to Today.
Although it was only 90 seconds in length, the clip leaves viewers with plenty to think about. It includes footage of female athletes from all backgrounds and all walks of life, including snowboarder Chloe Kim, gymnast Simone Biles, fencer Ibtihaj Muhammad, and the assistant coach of the San Antonio Spurs, Becky Hammon. All of these women have one thing in common, they will let nothing stand between them and their goals, regardless of the public criticism they may face.
Being a successful woman in the world of athletics is not without its fallbacks, as the commercial shows. The media often target these women not because of their talent or hard work but for reasons unrelated to their athletic performance. Williams herself received vast public criticism in September 2018 when she grew frustrated at the U.S. Open. During the game, she had a disagreement with the umpire, who penalized her for receiving coaching from the sidelines, a known violation, according to ABC News.
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Williams grew furious at the umpire who she believed was questioning her integrity. In a rage, she smashed her racquet while throwing it to the ground.
“I don’t cheat to win,” she shouted at the umpire. “I would rather lose.”
She did end up losing that game, with a final score of 6-2 to 6-4. Twenty-year-old Naomi Osaka would walk away the champion. In the weeks following the controversial match, the media slammed Williams for losing her cool and letting her emotions get the best of her. Her narration of the Nike advertisement is a clear reference to this incident.
“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. When we’re too good, there’s something wrong with us. And if we get angry, we’re hysterical, irrational, or just being crazy. So, if they want to call you crazy, fine. Show them what crazy can do.”