Venus Williams Speaks: American solidarity has “brought her to tears”

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After nearly two weeks of relative silence in the aftermath of George Floyd's death, Venus Williams has penned an emotional Instagram post in which she eloquently expressed her complex feelings on the matter.

Some have clamoured for a statement from Venus Williams in the wake of George Floyd’s death and the swelling protests that have engulfed the United States in its aftermath. Many, in fact. Williams, a pioneer for women’s equality in tennis and one of the greatest African American athletes in history, is typically counted on for inspirational words.

Apparently, she just needed some time to gather her thoughts. On Monday, she took to Instagram on Monday to share heartfelt words of passion, outlining the brutality of the police and the “racism that still pervades America”.

“Until you have walked in these shoes, as an African American, it is impossible to understand the challenges you face in the country, in this world,” she wrote. “What it is like to be unheard, thought of foolish, silly or reckless to believe that racism still exists at every level. This is no longer falling on deaf ears. I’m amazed at the solidarity that has erupted across the USA. It has brought me to tears.”

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I am deeply saddened that it has taken multiple acts of police brutality to make people painfully aware of the racism that still pervades America. It shouldn’t. This just scratches the surface of the hideous face of racism in America. Take a moment to imagine this: If police brutality can exist and be tolerated so many years at this scale, imagine the other insidious acts of racism that permeate our country: In the workplace. In the justice system. In the healthcare system. In the education system. … Speaking up about racism in the past was unpopular. It was shunned. No one believed you. Until you have walked in these shoes, as an African American, it is impossible to understand the challenges you face in the country, in this world. What it is like to be unheard, thought of foolish, silly or reckless to believe that racism still exists at every level. This is no longer falling on deaf ears. I’m amazed at the solidarity that has erupted across the USA. It has brought me to tears. In the past, I had the honor of fighting for equal prize money for all women’s players at the grand slams in tennis. To make this even more simple to understand, just as sexism is not only a "women's issue," racism is not only a "black issue." When we fought for and won equal prize money, everyone pitched in, men and women, all colors all races. And we won. When the majority groups stay quiet, when they sit in the chair of disbelief, they unwittingly condone the oppression of marginalized groups. Those with power and privilege actually have an easier time getting heard. They must CONTINUALLY exercise that privilege! We MUST win! We cannot let systematic racism persist. We have to love one another.  Help one another.  Listen to one another, believe one another, even if we don’t understand or will never walk in our neighbor’s shoes. Keep speaking out. Speak out today, tomorrow, next month, next year, each and every day until all is equal for African Americans. I am so happy, so relieved, as an African American, to finally be heard. I pray for those who have lost their lives and for their families so America could finally wake up and act. #blacklivesmatter

A post shared by Venus Williams (@venuswilliams) on

Younger American tennis players, such as 16-year-old Coco Gauff, 21-year-old Frances Tiafoe and 22-year-old Naomi Osaka have taken the point in terms of speaking out for the #BlackLivesMatter cause in the past two weeks. Many others – black, white, American and otherwise – have followed suit. It is a movement that has grown tremendous support across the sport and the world at large, and Williams’ voice will surely enrich the dialogue and add more oxygen to a fire that is already brightly burning.

“We cannot let systematic racism persist,” Williams posted. “We have to love one another.  Help one another.  Listen to one another, believe one another, even if we don’t understand or will never walk in our neighbor’s shoes. Keep speaking out. Speak out today, tomorrow, next month, next year, each and every day until all is equal for African Americans. I am so happy, so relieved, as an African American, to finally be heard. I pray for those who have lost their lives and for their families so America could finally wake up and act.”

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