Jan 012017
 

Serena Williams writes open letter to ‘all women who strive for excellence’

source: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/women/life/serena-williams-writes-open-letter-women-strive-excellence/#comment-section

Serena Williams, September 2016
Serena Williams in September 2016 CREDIT: AP PHOTO/LUCA BRUNO, FILE

Serena Williams has penned an inspirational open letter highlighting issues of inequality she has faced throughout her career.

Addressing “all incredible women who strive for excellence”, the tennis star writes: “Too often women are not supported enough or are discouraged from choosing their path. I hope together we can change that.”

In the letter, written for Porter Magazine’s Incredible Women of 2016 issue and republished by the Guardian, Williams describes her frustration with the continuing gender pay disparity, saying: “I know firsthand that I, like you, have done the same work and made the same sacrifices as our male counterpart

“I would never want my daughter to be paid less than my son for the same work. Nor would you.”

She also reflects on the way she is frequently described as one of the “world’s greatest female athletes”, noting that stars such as Roger Federer and Tiger Woods never have a “male” qualifier attached to their achievements.

Serena Williams lifts the Wimbledon trophy following her victory in 2016
Serena Williams lifts the Wimbledon trophy following her victory in 2016 CREDIT: ADAM DAVY/PRESS ASSOCIATION/POOL/GETTY IMAGES

“Why not?” she asks. “They are certainly not female. We should never let this go unchallenged. We should always be judged by our achievements, not by our gender.”

Paula here.  I have decided to blog her entire letter.

Here is her letter in full

To all incredible women who strive for excellence,

When I was growing up, I had a dream. I’m sure you did, too. My dream wasn’t like that of an average kid, my dream was to be the best tennis player in the world. Not the best “female” tennis player in the world.

I was fortunate to have a family that supported my dream and encouraged me to follow it. I learned not to be afraid. I learned how important it is to fight for a dream and, most importantly, to dream big. My fight began when I was three and I haven’t taken a break since.

But as we know, too often women are not supported enough or are discouraged from choosing their path. I hope together we can change that. For me, it was a question of resilience. What others marked as flaws or disadvantages about myself – my race, my gender – I embraced as fuel for my success. I never let anything or anyone define me or my potential. I controlled my future.

So when the subject of equal pay comes up, it frustrates me because I know firsthand that I, like you, have done the same work and made the same sacrifices as our male counterparts. I would never want my daughter to be paid less than my son for the same work. Nor would you.

As we know, women have to break down many barriers on the road to success. One of those barriers is the way we are constantly reminded we are not men, as if it is a flaw. People call me one of the “world’s greatest female athletes”. Do they say LeBron is one of the world’s best male athletes? Is Tiger? Federer? Why not? They are certainly not female. We should never let this go unchallenged. We should always be judged by our achievements, not by our gender.

For everything I’ve achieved in my life, I am profoundly grateful to have experienced the highs and lows that come with success. It is my hope that my story, and yours, will inspire all young women out there to push for greatness and follow their dreams with steadfast resilience. We must continue to dream big, and in doing so, we empower the next generation of women to be just as bold in their pursuits.

Serena Williams 

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