The advert, which aired during a break in last night’s Academy Awards, centres on the fight of female athletes to be taken seriously in sport – something that Williams has had to deal with throughout her career.
The advert stars an array of inspirational female athletes, including Olympic-gold-medal-winning gymnast Simone Biles; sabre fencer Ibtihaj Muhammad, who became the American Muslim athlete to wear a hijab while competing; and South African runner Caster Semenya, who was subjected to gender testing after winning gold at the 2009 World Championships.
The Nike advert begins with two female athletes crying. “If we show emotion, we’re called dramatic,” Williams says in the advert’s voiceover.
The tennis star continues, saying that female athletes are described as “nuts” if they want to play against men, and “delusional” if they demand equal opportunity.
The 23-time Grand Slam winner then says that when female athletes are passionate, they’re labelled as ”just being crazy”.
“But, a woman running a marathon was crazy,” she says. “A woman boxing was crazy. A woman dunking, crazy.”
A clip of Williams playing tennis is then shown, accompanied with the statement that a woman “winning 23 Grand Slams, having a baby and then coming back for more” was seen as a “crazy” feat.
The advert, titled “Dream Crazier”, ends with Williams urging girls and women not to be deterred from sport because of comments from critics.
“So if they want to call you crazy – fine. Show them what crazy can do,” she says.
People have expressed their admiration for Williams and the advert, with one person describing it as a “masterpiece”.
“They call my daughter crazy because she plays baseball not softball,” one person tweeted. “Then they whine when she strikes their sons out. Can’t wait to show her this!”
“I’m over 60 and only wish I had been told I wasn’t crazy when I talked about my dreams,” another added. “This brings tears. But it’s not too late to just do it.”
“When we’re young, we all have dreams we want to accomplish in life. Having the dream is easy, making it come true is hard,” Williams said as she introduced the advert.
To catch up on the winners’ list in full from the 2019 Academy Awards, click here.
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