LONDON, United Kingdom, June 8 – Serena Williams sat down with husband Alexis Ohanian for an interview session on Instagram Live where they discussed the current climate surrounding race relations in the United States.
The 23-time Grand Slam champion decided to speak out following the death of African American George Floyd, who died on May 25 after former Minneapolis officer Derek Chauvin pressed his knee into Floyd’s neck for several minutes.
His death has inspired international protests and drawn new attention to the treatment of African Americans by police and the criminal justice system.
Williams highlighted the importance of using their platform to elevate the issues of the current climate and using their voices to bring about change.
She said: “At no point in my career, did I feel like I was ever in the wrong room, or that I was ever being judged.”
“I’m always letting you know what I see. I see things different. My whole life, I’ve been taught to see things different because who I am and because of the colour of my skin.
“You see things different because of the colour of your skin. I’m just telling you my view, and when you get to see it from my point of view, it’s just totally different. There have been so many situations I’ve been in where I’ve just had to take the high road, even to this day.
“I’m proud, I’ve always been proud to be who I am, to be black, and I just feel like I wouldn’t be who I am, I wouldn’t be as strong as I am, I wouldn’t have been able to be as amazing I have been so far in my career, I wouldn’t be me if I wasn’t black. I’ve always leaned into that, I get that from my parents.
“They taught me the power of loving myself and it is, now more than ever, a great time to love yourself.”
The pair also discussed Ohanian’s decision to resign from the board of Reddit, the social networking website he co-founded. The 37-year-old has urged the company to fill the seat with a black candidate.
“It puts in perspective the work that I do, which I take great pride in, but that I know still doesn’t reach or affect as many people and you have and what you continue to do,” he said.
“Part of that is all the things that you represent, have done and have overcome, and it makes me very proud and also humble. It was the first time in my life that I and Reddit have ever been trending on Twitter. I’ve seen Serena Williams trend a few times.”
The couple discussed how they plan to teach their two-and-a-half-year-old daughter Olympia about this current time in history, saying she is a “blank canvas of pure love”.
“[Olympia] is a pure, blank canvas. She only knows love. There is not an ounce of hate in her body. She can’t even hate the bad guy in Paw Patrol when he’s clearly a terrible mayor,” Ohanian said.
“That’s the crushing thing. Every child is that same blank canvas of pure love. You hear all your life about how hate is taught, and it really is.
“At some point, Olympia is going to have to have a talk with you about how she’s going to have to work that much harder, how she’s going to have to work that much more, that’s where the perspective comes in.
Williams spoke openly about the adversity she has faced over the course of her own life, despite her standing as a multiple major champion and world-renowned athlete.
The 38-year-old admitted life was not easy for her, but she learned to adapt to a lot of inequality.
“It’s hard. It’s something that, unfortunately, has become normal for us. It’s normal to go to different places and feel unaccepted. I entered a sport that was all white, and it definitely wasn’t easy, looking back,” Williams said.
“I was also very young and I just adapted. I wasn’t there to be besties with anybody, I was just there to play tennis… and it all really boiled down to my faith, and that all of this is temporary. I don’t think I would be in this position, I think I would be very angry, very spiteful, very jealous, if I didn’t have that spiritual background.
“Because of all the things I’ve been through, all of the things that I go through, all of the things that I see, it would be very hard.
“A lot of people don’t know that in my whole life, I’ve had to deal with so many different challenges. I’ve had to deal with a lot of inequality, I’ve had to deal with racism and sadly, it’s become, unfortunately, somewhat of a norm for people who have my skin colour. It is really unfortunate, but it’s something I think that, systematically, we just have to ultimately deal with, and I shouldn’t have let it become a norm.
“I, personally, am very God-fearing and I believe in the Bible, and the one way that we can have peace and security is through God, so I’ve taken solace in that, but it’s sad that someone on my level has had to accept so many different things because of the colour of my skin.”
-By Sky Sport-