New York - Serena
Williams served up a rallying cry for equal pay for black women on Monday,
decrying that they would have to work on average eight months longer to
earn the same as male counterparts in one year.
The record-breaking tennis star and world's highest paid female
athlete - who has spoken candidly about sexism and racism - wrote a
nearly 1 000-word essay in Fortune magazine to mark Black Women's Equal
For every dollar made by a man, black women make 63 cents in the
United States. Black women earn 17 percent less than white women, and
black women with graduate degrees get paid less at every level, wrote
The 23-time Grand Slam singles champion quoted data showing that only 44 percent of white men recognize the pay gap as an issue.
"I have been treated unfairly, I've been disrespected by my male
colleagues and - in the most painful times - I've been the subject of
racist remarks on and off the tennis court," wrote the 35-year-old.
"The cycles of poverty, discrimination, and sexism are much, much
harder to break than the record for Grand Slam titles," she added,
calling for legislation and action to change the status quo.
Williams, who announced her engagement to Reddit co-founder Alexis
Ohanian last December, is pregnant with her first child. She plans to
return to competitive tennis next year.
"Black women: Be fearless. Speak out for equal pay. Every time you
do, you're making it a little easier for a woman behind you," she said.
"Most of all, know that you're worth it. It can take a long time to
realize that. It took me a long time to realize it. But we are all worth
it. I've long said, 'You have to believe in yourself when no one else
Forbes ranks Williams as the highest earning female athlete with a
pay cheque of $27 million - but only 51st on an overall list of highest
paid athletes. Forbes ranks Roger Federer as the world's highest paid
tennis star at $64 million.
"Black women are the cornerstone of our communities, they are
phenomenal, and they deserve equal pay," Williams tweeted on Monday with a
picture of herself wearing a T-shirt saying "Phenomenal Woman."