Serena Williams serves up dialogue on sexist referee calls

Creative Commons Photo Courtesy of Eduardo Munoz Alvarez

Serena Williams has won 23 Grand Slams in the past 20 years of her career, after her first at age 17.

Mia Gallo and Meredith Prud'homme

With countless grand slam titles, major brand deals and four Olympic gold medals, tennis player Serena Williams has become a household name. Following her first grand slam win at 17, her two-decade career remains climbing. Williams is one of the most influential and affluent females the sports world has ever seen, according to USA Today.

With a net worth of $180 million, Williams towers over the second highest paid female athlete, Caroline Wozniacki, whose net worth stands at $30 million. But, despite Serena’s staggering salary, she didn’t even break the 2017 Forbes’ top 100 highest paid athletes, all of whom are men, according to Forbes.

Williams is no stranger to sexism both on and off the court. In her most recent US Open tournament, Williams received a game penalty for calling the umpire a “liar” and a “thief,” actions that she felt would not normally affect a man in the same way, according to BBC.

Tennis icon and co-founder of the Women’s Tennis Association Billie Jean King backed Williams’s reaction by recognizing the apparent sexism in the sport.

“When a woman is emotional, she’s ‘hysterical’ and she’s penalized for it. When a man does the same, he’s ‘outspoken’ and there are no repercussions. Thank you, Serena Williams, for calling out this double standard. More voices are needed to do the same,” King said.

Junior Heather Griffin, a varsity tennis player for Wall, said that the fact that Serena’s salary is so low is surprising because of recent pushes for gender equality and Williams’ sheer ability.  

“ I feel like at this point, female athletes should be able to earn salaries just as high as those of male athletes, especially in Serena’s case as she is the highest paid female athlete,” Griffin said.

Williams started playing tennis as a 5-year-old in Compton, Calif., where she lived below the poverty line. Now a mother and reaching her 40s, Williams persists as a dominant female figurehead to women and athletes internationally. Williams recently played highest paid male tennis player, Roger Federer, in a charity match, putting two tennis powerhouses head to head, in order to close the gap between male and female athletes. Fighting the battle of sexism head-on, Williams still faces pushback stemming from thousands of years of wage gaps and discrepancies between men and women.