Serena Williams has finally weighed in on the huge disparity between her and tennis player Maria Sharapova’s off-court earnings.
While Williams dominates Sharapova athletically, leading in their head-to-head matchups 18-2, Sharapova is still the highest paid female athlete, mostly thanks to endorsements.
In an interview with the New York Times published Aug. 25, Williams was asked how she feels about the preference many endorsement partners have for the tall, slim, and blonde Sharapova.
Her response was poised and perfect:
If they want to market someone who is white and blond, that’s their choice. I have a lot of partners who are very happy to work with me. I can’t sit here and say I should be higher on the list because I have won more. I’m happy for her, because she worked hard, too. There is enough at the table for everyone. We have to be thankful, and we also have to be positive about it so the next black person can be No. 1 on that list.
For Williams, her success thus far is more about creating opportunities for future black tennis players than making more money than her white peers. “Maybe it was not meant to be me,” she added.
“Maybe it’s meant to be the next person to be amazing, and I’m just opening the door. Zina Garrison, Althea Gibson, Arthur Ashe and Venus [Williams] opened so many doors for me.”
Williams, who has faced criticism over her body and on-court demeanor, is gearing up for the U.S. Open, which launches on Aug. 31. Should she win the prestigious tennis competition, it will be her fifth Grand Slam win in a row.