Serena Williams says recognition of her rightful place in the tennis pantheon — and she’ll say it: No. 1 all-time — has been withheld because she is a woman and because she is black.
“I think if I were a man, I would have been in that conversation a long time ago,” Williams said in an in-depth interview with rapper Common — whom she once dated — for ESPN vertical “The Undefeated.”
“I think being a woman is just a whole new set of problems from society that you have to deal with, as well as being black, so it’s a lot to deal with — and especially lately. I’ve been able to speak up for women’s rights because I think that gets lost in color, or gets lost in cultures. Women make up so much of this world, and, yeah, if I were a man, I would have 100 percent been considered the greatest ever a long time ago.”
That means you, serene men’s tennis royalty: Laver, Borg, Sampras, Federer, maybe Djokovic. And the fair-skinned women on a would-be Rushmore: Court, Evert, Navratilova, Graf.
Williams, 35, owns 22 career grand slam titles, tied with German legend Steffi Graf for the most in the Open era and two behind Australian Margaret Court’s record 24. She came from Compton, Calif., to a predominantly white sport that until recently did not grant equal prize money to women, and still only in the richest tournaments.
“It’s very challenging because sometimes when things are blatantly wrong and blatantly unfair and blatantly racist or sexist, I just have to go and put on a brave smile and not let anyone know how I feel on the inside so they don’t get that satisfaction even though on the inside I would be dying,” Williams said in the sitdown.
Williams also said she stopped reading her clips after facing criticism in the press early in her career for talking herself up as a future world No. 1.
“I shouldn’t have to apologize for saying and believing that I could be the best,” Williams said. “We took the globe and shook it, me and Venus, because we came from Compton we came from nothing, and in tennis you kind of have to have something. We came and we conquered.”
Source: New York Post