Venus Williams advocates for gender equality in British Vogue essay

The tennis legend writes, 'sexism isn’t a women's issue any more than racism is a Black issue.'

In a new essay, sports legend Venus Williams advocates for gender equality for the latest issue of British Vogue.

Williams is using her platform to speak up for gender equality and equal pay. Williams has penned a letter for British Vogue detailing her professional experience, including being the first female tennis player to receive equal prize money to her male counterparts, and how important gender equality is to society. As she details in the letter, the sports star has “felt compelled to campaign for equality for women” since she won Wimbledon for the first time in 2000.

At the time, she explains that “the men’s singles champion received £477,500 while the women’s singles champion earned £430,000.”

Venus Williams
(Credit: Getty Images)

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Through detailing the history of the fight for equal pay in tennis and connecting it to statistics and facts from today, Williams paints a large picture in a personal way, using her letter to raise awareness and, hopefully, change the landscape of pay in sports.

She explains in the letter, “I firmly believe that sport mirrors life and life mirrors sport. The lack of equality and equal opportunities in tennis is a symptom of the obstacles women face around the world. While Nordic countries such as Iceland, Norway, Sweden and Finland demonstrate some of the lowest disparities in pay between men and women, Turkey, Bahrain and Nigeria are some of the highest. In the US, women made 82.3 cents for every dollar men made in 2019.”

She also explains her #PrivelegeTax campaign, initiated in an effort to support Girls Inc of Greater Los Angeles.

She writes, “This shocking statistic inspired me to initiate the inaugural #PrivilegeTax campaign to fill the gap via my own lifestyle and activewear company Eleven by Venus Williams. Throughout this month, ahead of Equal Pay Day on 24 March, customers can opt to donate 19 cents at the checkout when they shop with participating brands.”

Venus Williams
Venus Williams of USA serves during the singles match between Kaja Juvan of Slovenia and Venus Williams of USA as part of the WTA Mexican Open 2020 Day 2 at Princess Mundo Imperial on February 25, 2020 in Acapulco, Mexico. (Photo by Hector Vivas/Getty Images)

The brands participating in her initiative include NordstromTracy Anderson, Tom Brady’s TB12Carbon38Credo Beauty and Happy Viking, her plant-based protein company.

She continues, “One hundred per cent of customer donations will go to the charity Girls Inc of Greater Los Angeles, which provides hundreds of girls with life-changing support through its education enrichment programme that focuses on STEM (science, technology, engineering and maths) subjects.”

Williams concludes her letter with valuable information and statistics that prove the fight for gender equality helps everyone, not just women.

“When women are doing well, the family does well and so does the economy — we all win. Studies prove that the gender pay gap hits women of colour hardest. As an African-American woman, to know how hard we have to fight to show we’re human beings with a heart that beats just like everybody else; to know what it’s like to face biases based on gender and race is why I’m so passionate about campaigning for equality across the board,” she explains.

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Williams also takes this moment to call out men, reminding them that in order for progress to happen, they need to be a part of the movement. She writes, “None of these things are possible without men being part of the solution. Sexism isn’t a women’s issue any more than racism is a Black issue. Men need to understand gender equality is about equal opportunities for women rather than men relinquishing power.”

Check out Williams’ full letter for British Vogue and the accompanying photoshoot, here.

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