Tennis-great Venus Williams on the ongoing fight for pay parity and trying to live her best life

- by Venus Williams

Title ix has impacted so many women, but it was a movement in life as well as in sports at the time. Because of laws like Title IX, more opportunit­ies and more openings were created for women in all aspects of life. In sports generally, in colleges and in profession­al sports, Title IX opened doors.

Early on in my career there were definitely moments that opened my eyes to inequality between men and women, like disproport­ionate court times. I saw how many women’s matches were on center courts at combined events for women and men. When you’re relegated to a side court, you notice that.

Experienci­ng prize money that wasn’t equal was incredibly significan­t. No man had to experience that, but every woman did. That was pretty glaring until I became the first woman to receive equal prize money at Wimbledon in 2007.

Female Power and Role Models

i don’t think i ever had this idea to disrupt female power, it was about embracing it and creating opportunit­ies that help other women to embrace their power. A lot of that impact can be created just by doing something positive with your own life.

I was always of the opinion that it didn’t matter what people thought of me as an elite female athlete. What matters is that women keep going, keep excelling and keep improving. When we have a platform to do that, no one can stop us.

I think it’s important for women

to embrace our femininity as it fully is. That’s anything from how you feel or how you dress to how you express yourself. I don’t think we have to hide, we can fully embrace our femininity and let it shine.

There are always going to be people who are saying something. My attitude is that it’s good if people are talking, because it means something is happening. Let them keep talking, let them say that we might not be good enough as women, because we know that we are. Those who say we can’t, those are people who have placed limitation­s on themselves, and we don’t have to accept that.

The most important thing is that we as women understand that and that we’re encouragin­g the next generation; that mothers, fathers, siblings and teachers are telling women they can achieve.

My mom spent so much time on the court with us from a young age. People didn’t necessaril­y see or understand those moments, but they definitely happened. My character is also so close to my mom’s and if we’re talking about genetics, she was a fantastic athlete. She’s a strong, powerful woman, and she didn’t allow any weakness. So she taught us to be strong and confident, and she gave us the tools to do that and led by example. She still does to this day. I’ve never seen her get beaten or succumb to anything. She always overcame everything.

My mom always says, “Play not to lose.” People go out there playing to win, but she likes to reverse the theory. I love that one. She would also tell us that you don’t have to ask for something, you can go out and get it yourself. That definitely stuck with me; that you have to make it happen for yourself. Don’t expect anyone to give you anything, don’t be asking for anything, go out there, make it work and make it happen.

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