Serena Williams Defends Nike Amid Controversy Over Payment Of Pregnant Athletes
The tennis superstar said the company is learning and growing with the times.
May 28, 2019 at 4:43 pm
Tennis icon Serena Williams addressed Nike's maternity controversy during the French Open, reassuring critics the sportswear giant will take a different approach to its treatment of pregnant athletes going forward.After defeating Vitalia Diatchenko in the first round over the weekend, Williams spoke to press about the recent clash between Nike and pregnant athletes. Olympian Alysia Montaño was one of the athletes vocalizing concerns. She accused the company and Asics of freezing her pay when she was starting her family.
In an effort to calm tensions, the 23-time Grand Slam winner said she was well-aware Nike needed to make changes to their policies.“I understand that Nike has been really lately supporting women a lot, and it started with making a statement with me, and they said they want to make a change,” Williams said
The backlash from Montaño and other athletes forced Nike's hand. According to Yahoo, Nike announced they will no longer freeze sponsorship payments for pregnant athletes.
“They want to support women that want to have families and that want to be moms. I’m glad that statement was made, and I know that therefore and going forward, they’re doing better," she said. "That’s what it’s about. It’s about learning from mistakes and doing better.”
Last year, the 37-year-old was defended by the sneaker giant following the catsuit ban at the French Open.
Over the weekend, Williams donned another stylish look for the 2019 French Open with the full support of Nike. The latest look was designed by Virgil Abhol of "Off-White" and Nike.
Williams won the prestigious tennis event in the bold design all the while standing by her sponsor. She reiterated to the media that Nike will reevaluate policies to accommodate all athletes.
“We have to look at old policies and change them. And I think that Nike wanted to do that, and they started doing that," she said. "And so I think they made a really bold statement by doing that with me, and I think they’re going to — I know, actually, that they’re going to continue to make that statement.”