Serena Williams has hit out at gender inequality and criticised how she is described as one of the “world’s greatest female athletes” in an open letter, published by the Women’s Tennis Association.
The American, a 22-time Grand Slam singles champion, wrote the letter as part of Porter Magazine’s Incredible Women of 2016 issue and claimed she was frustrated by the issue of pay in the men’s and women’s game.
“When the subject of equal pay comes up, it frustrates me because I know first-hand that I, like you, have done the same work and made the same sacrifices as our male counterparts,” Williams wrote.
“I would never want my daughter to be paid less than my son for the same work.
“Nor would you.”
The topic was a subject of controversy early in 2016, when former Indian Wells chief executive Raymond Moore claimed that the women’s game “rides on the coat-tails of the men”.
On the eve of the tournament in March, he stated that “if I was a lady player, I’d go down every night on my knees and thank God that Roger Federer and Rafa Nadal were born, because they have carried this sport”.
His comments were fiercely criticised by Williams as “mistaken and very, very, very inaccurate”, with Moore ultimately resigning from his post as a consequence of the controversy.
Serbia’s Novak Djokovic had claimed the statements were “not politically correct”, but suggested that men could be paid more prize money on the basis that more people watched the men’s game and that money could be distributed based on “who attracts more attention, spectators and who sells more tickets”.
The world number two then apologised for his suggestion, which had attracted further criticism from players.
Women are currently paid the same as men at the four Grand Slam tournaments, playing best of three sets to their counterparts’ five.
Williams went on to criticise references to female players’ gender, rather than accomplishments, in her letter.
She claimed resilience was required to continue to inspire women to “dream big” and achieve their aims.
“As we know, women have to break down many barriers on the road to success,” Williams wrote.
“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 [James] is one of the world’s best male athletes?
Is Tiger [Woods]? [Roger] 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.”