Serena speaks out on Kaepernick after reaching U.S. Open semis
Send a link to a friend
[September 05, 2018]
By Simon Jennings
NEW YORK (Reuters) - Serena Williams
spoke in support of Nike Inc’s decision to make former National
Football League quarterback Colin Kaepernick the face of its new
advertising campaign after she reached the semi-finals of the U.S.
Open on Tuesday.
Kaepernick sparked a national controversy by kneeling during the
national anthem and was not offered a place on a team for the 2017
He has since sued the NFL, accusing owners of colluding to blackball
him and is still without a team.
Protesters burned Nike shoes and some consumers demanded a boycott
after the footwear and apparel maker’s unveiling of Kaepernick,
while the company’s shares fell on Tuesday, closing down 3.2
Williams, who said on Twitter she was "especially proud to be a part
of the Nike family" after it unveiled Kaepernick a day earlier,
commented on the issue after beating Czech Karolina Pliskova in
straight sets to reach the semi-finals at Flushing Meadows.
"He's done a lot for the African American community, and it's cost
him a lot. It's sad," she told reporters.
"Having a huge company back him ... could be a controversial reason
for this company, but they're not afraid. I feel like that was a
really powerful statement to a lot of other companies."
Both Williams and Kaepernick have endorsement deals with Nike.
In an on-court interview after her match, Williams was told that
film director Spike Lee, who watched her on Tuesday, had compared
her to fellow African American sporting icons Muhammad Ali and
Former heavyweight champion Ali, who died in 2016, was known as much
for his political activism as his boxing brilliance, speaking out
racism, war and religious intolerance.
"To be compared to Ali or Jordan, I really have no words," Williams
said. “Mainly Ali, because he did so much for the sport, he did so
much for the world, for everyone.
[to top of second column]
Serena Williams of the United States serves to Karolina Pliskova of
Czech Republic in a quarter-final match on day nine of the 2018 U.S.
Open tennis tournament at USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis
Center. Mandatory Credit: Danielle Parhizkaran-USA TODAY SPORTS
“That’s what I want to do and want to be remembered for.
“It’s not what I want to do on court, but how I can inspire people
off the court, that’s my dream.”
U.S. President Donald Trump has been critical of athletes taking a
knee during the national anthem and has said he would love to see
NFL owners fire football players who disrespect the American flag.
Williams said in her post-match interview that athletes should be
given the freedom of choice to exercise their right to protest
“I feel like they can choose or they can not choose. And it's their
choice," she said.
"My choice is to choose to just be the best, try to be, I'm not
always perfect. Actually I'm never perfect. Just try to be the best
that I can be.
"Maybe I can just influence one person, and that makes a change
(Editing by Peter Rutherford)
[© 2018 Thomson Reuters. All rights
Copyright 2018 Reuters. All rights reserved. This material may not be published,
broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
Thompson Reuters is solely responsible for this content.