LeBron James' Comments About Serena Williams Highlight Why Her Voice Matters So Much
Almost two weeks ago at the U.S. Open, Serena Williams accused an umpire of sexism following a heated argument, and now LeBron James is speaking out. In a new interview with The Hollywood Reporter, James opened up about Williams' U.S. Open comments, and according to the NBA legend himself, having a daughter has made him realize how much sexism truly exists in the athletic world.
On Saturday, Sept. 8, during a match with Naomi Osaka, Williams was given a violation for receiving help from her coach while she was playing, which led to Williams calling the umpire a "thief" for potentially taking away her win, something she said wouldn't have happened if she was a man. In a press conference after the match, Williams said that she was treated differently than she would have if she was a man in the same position. Since the argument, many other athletes have come forward to support her, including Billie Jean King, who tweeted that women are often penalized for being emotional when men aren't.
And now, it sounds like James is standing behind Williams 100 percent, telling THR that he believes her argument with the umpire was about so much more than just the code violation she was issued during the match. And according to him, this kind of sexism has become even more visible (and personal) to him since his 3-year-old daughter, Zhuri, was born.
In the interview, James said:
"What we all have to understand is what she is fighting for is bigger than just that match. She is fighting for equality — always having to win more, more, more, just to feel equal. Being an African-American woman playing in a predominantly white sport, she's dealing with so much more. I have no idea what was going on in her head, but I feel that struggle."
As a society, we still have a long way to go for gender equality, and like James pointed out, for women of color, the gap between men and women (and even white women and black women) is even larger. In fact, according to the New York Post, a 2017 study from the University of Southern California found that hidden sexism in sports coverage hurts female athletes' salaries and ticket sales, so even for women like Williams who are killing it, being successful in their sport is still an uphill battle.
But by being an ally to women like Williams, someone as well-known and athletically accomplished as James speaking out on these topics actually can affect change. In the interview, he also added that he's hopeful to see a female NBA coach soon — something that can only happen if athletes continue to call out sexist behavior when they see it.
Good for Williams for standing her ground, and good for James for standing behind her. Sexism in sports shouldn't have to be something women have to deal with in 2018, but since it is, it's good to see that there are people who aren't afraid to call out that sexism when they see it.