Serena Williams’ remarkable late career has been marked not only by continued excellence on the court, but by an increasing outspokenness off it.
After her historic Wimbledon title in July, in the wake of two separate video-documented police killings of black men, Serena used her press conference to speak about the need for recognition, understanding, and change in American institutions.
“I feel anyone in my color in particular is of concern,” Serena said. “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’?”
With another spate of police shootings of black men setting off another wave of protests across the country, Serena took to Facebook and again expressed concern for her nephew, for fellow African Americans, and for a system that she feels continues to contribute to the killing of innocent people:
Today I asked my 18 year old nephew (to be clear he’s black) to drive me to my meetings so I can work on my phone #safteyfirst. In the distance I saw cop on the side of the road. I quickly checked to see if he was obliging by the speed limit. Than I remembered that horrible video of the woman in the car when a cop shot her boyfriend. All of this went through my mind in a matter of seconds. I even regretted not driving myself. I would never forgive myself if something happened to my nephew. He’s so innocent. So were all “the others.”
I am a total believer that not “everyone” is bad It is just the ones that are ignorant, afraid, uneducated, and insensitive that is affecting millions and millions of lives.
Why did I have to think about this in 2016? Have we not gone through enough, opened so many doors, impacted billions of lives? But I realized we must stride on – for it’s not how far we have come but how much further still we have to go.
Serena concluded her statement with a strong message about the need to make one’s voice heard, and the perils of remaining silent:
I had to take a look at me. What about my nephews? What if I have a son and what about my daughters?
As Dr. Martin Luther King said, “There comes a time when silence is betrayal.”