Propelled by a rude was awakening at age 16 while playing her first grand slam, coming face to face with the ugly reality of being underpaid and undervalued, borrowing from her personal career experience spanning decades, in efforts at changing the narrative, today, the iconic seven-time Grand Slam champion has unveiled her Privilege Tax initiative to bring attention to the issue of gender pay gap that she has been working to close throughout her career.
“It’s important to call attention to this,” she shared on CBS Mornings with Gayle King last Wednesday. “That people know this, because women not only need equal opportunity, but it gives them opportunity to grow and become strong and to help their families.”
Explaining further, the tennis legend, 41, who in 1998, won her first Grand Slam at the Australian Open, and in 2002, grabbed title world No 1 in women’s tennis said:
“I came into inequality at the young age of 16 when I played my first Grand Slam and that’s a rude awakening, so I don’t want any other young women to have to face that,” said the 41-year-old athlete
Privilege Tax initiative aims to raise money and give a 100% of proceeds to Girls, Inc., a nonprofit dedicated to advocating and empowering girls and young women. Customers of participating companies partnered with the initiative will be able to donate $1 to close the wage gap, including Williams’ own EleVen clothing brand
“That gap widens when you’re a Black woman, a woman of minority,” she said. “I’m just very happy that as an African American woman that I can speak to this and make this known. It’s a very important role that I never thought I’d play. I just wanted to win Wimbledon! I got there, it wasn’t equal, and it’s just led me to this place where I’m able to do more than I ever could have thought I could do.”
Urging more people and organisations to take action, Venus said:
“People do want to do this, but it takes time,” noted the tennis legend. “It doesn’t happen overnight.”
In 2006, Venus Williams became the first woman to earn the same prize money at Wimbledon as Roger Federer, the men’s champion.