Article Dec 08, 2016

You are no longer passing

Serena Williams pens letter urging young women to beat sexism

Serena Williams has penned a letter urging young women to pursue their dreams and overcome sexism.

In one of four letters by celebrities published in Porter Magazine’s Incredible Women of 2016 issue (Dec16), the sporting icon explains how racism and sexism fuelled her desire to succeed and advises young girls to follow her path. The magazine also includes profiles of 50 women who have had, "a positive impact on others".

"To all incredible women who strive for excellence," Serena's letter begins. "When I was growing up, I had a dream. I'm sure you did, too. My dream wasn't like that of an average kid, my dream was to be the best tennis player in the world. Not the best 'female' tennis player in the world."

Serena, 35, adds, "As we know, too often women are not supported enough or are discouraged from choosing their path. I hope together we can change that. For me, it was a question of resilience. What others marked as flaws or disadvantages about myself - my race, my gender - I embraced as fuel for my success."

In the letter the holder of 22 major singles titles (tied with Steffi Graf) calls for women to achieve equal pay, an issue she and her sister have spoken up for parity in the tennis world over the last decade.

"So when the subject of equal pay comes up, it frustrates me because I know firsthand that I, like you, have done the same work and made the same sacrifices as our male counterparts," she writes. "I would never want my daughter to be paid less than my son for the same work. Nor would you."

She concludes the letter by writing, "We must continue to dream big, and in doing so, we empower the next generation of women to be just as bold in their pursuits."

The other stars who have penned letters for the publication are U.S. gymnast Simone Biles, writer/director Sharon Horgan and actress Amber Heard, who addressed her letter to, "My silent sisters everywhere".

Amber accused her estranged husband Johnny Depp of domestic abuse earlier this year (16) during a bitter divorce battle.

She later withdrew the allegations and agreed a $7 million (£5.6 million) settlement with Depp, money she said she would go to charities helping victims of domestic violence.