(LONDON) — Serena Williams says she was “undervalued” and “underpaid” in her tennis career, despite earning four Olympic golds and 23 Grand Slam singles titles to date.

 

It’s been an uphill battle for Williams over the years, who made her tennis debut in the 1990s alongside her sister Venus. She’s also has dealt with systematic prejudice and racial commentary on her physical appearance.

“[But] I’ve never been a person that has been like, ‘I want to be a different color’ or ‘I want my skin tone to be lighter,” said British Vogue’s November 2020 cover star. “I like who I am, I like how I look, and I love representing the beautiful dark women out there. For me, it’s perfect. I wouldn’t want it any other way.”

“When I was growing up, what was celebrated was different,” Williams continues. “Venus looked more like what is really acceptable: She has incredibly long legs, she’s really, really thin. I didn’t see people on TV that looked like me, who were thick. There wasn’t positive body image. It was a different age.”

She credits her three-year-old daughter Olympia for her newfound appreciation for her body, as she continues to stick up for and support other women. 

Williams said she plans to do all she can to change the narrative for “women and people of color” and promote size-inclusivity with her clothing line, Serena.

“In this society, women are not taught or expected to be that future leader or future CEO,”  Williams said. “And maybe it doesn’t get better in time for me, but someone in my position can show women and people of color that we have a voice, because Lord knows, I use mine.”

The November issue of British Vogue hits newsstands on October 9th.

By Rachel George
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