A favorite response of the political right is to tell people to "focus on their profession" and not get politically involved.
International tennis superstar Serena Williams found herself facing the same criticism, supposedly from Billie Jean-King, and she was not about to sit down and take it.
Speaking to reporters after her match versus Romanian Simona Halep in the Wimbledon final, Williams fielded an unexpected question:
"Serena, sorry, this is kind of a negative one, but there have been a few comments made in recent weeks from people such as Billie Jean-King, that maybe you should stop being a celebrity for a year, and stop fighting for equality, and just focus on the tennis. How do you respond to that?"
Serena hit back with the aptness of a tennis player:
"Well, the day I stop fighting for equality, and for people that look like you and me, will be the day I'm in my grave."
Asked what she thinks about remarks that she should 'stop fighting for equality and just focus on the tennis,' Sere… https://t.co/6Bla82AAlH— Kyle Griffin (@Kyle Griffin)1563036303.0
And people definitely want that engraved on their tombstone.
@kylegriffin1 https://t.co/GLrgEMiTd6— Elee (@Elee)1563121529.0
@kylegriffin1 @serenawilliams Is incredible. Thank God she is fighting for equality. The works needs more people like Serena. #respect— Patricia Arquette (@Patricia Arquette)1563059149.0
@kylegriffin1 @DaShanneStokes Athletes cannot ever sacrifice their morals for money or the hypersensitivity of miso… https://t.co/vyqkwYsh3T— Joseph Franklin (@Joseph Franklin)1563045395.0
@kylegriffin1 This may sound crazy, but couldn't she just do both?— Ross Ginsberg (@Ross Ginsberg)1563036352.0
However tennis legend and fighter for both women's and LGBT equality, Billie Jean King tweeted, following the question, denying that she ever said Williams should "stop fighting for equality."
I would never ask anyone to stop fighting for equality. In everything she does, Serena shines a light on what all o… https://t.co/bBJbKDDWGc— Billie Jean King (@Billie Jean King)1563039625.0
@BillieJeanKing Thank you for addressing the misquote and correcting it. It didn’t sound like something you would say!— Kelli 🦋🌸 (@Kelli 🦋🌸)1563051022.0
@BillieJeanKing Fighting for equal rights and being the best aren't mutually exclusive. The expectations for Seren… https://t.co/1rWaFZECk0— Lisa A. Coleman (@Lisa A. Coleman)1563046633.0
King's quote was:
"She's got a baby, she's trying to help gender equity, particularly women of color, she's actually on the Billie Jean
King leadership initiative; she and Venus are both advisors for it."
"I would like her to put everything else aside, because she's got people working on those things. I wish she would just make a commitment for the next year-and-a-half to two years and say, 'I'm going to absolutely focus on what's necessary for my tennis, so when I look in the mirror when I'm older then I can go back in my mind and know I gave it everything I had'."
But people agree Serena is doing exactly the right things.
@kylegriffin1 Hero! https://t.co/FnIkXHGGsY— 🏳️🌈Lyndsea🖇 (@🏳️🌈Lyndsea🖇)1563036371.0
@kylegriffin1 @Robinzpage https://t.co/DxFN0llmlx— MED (@MED)1563041851.0
@kylegriffin1 Hooray for Serena. I was disappointed that she lost (Of course!) but she's a winner and this just shows how much a winner.— Jim Owen (@Jim Owen)1563036443.0
@kylegriffin1 https://t.co/slQdsVysum— B (@B)1563036733.0
@kylegriffin1 Don't tell Serena Williams what to do.— Matt Smith (@Matt Smith)1563036418.0
Williams unfortunately suffered her third consecutive Grand Slam defeat in the Wimbledon final.
But that is no deterrent to her on her fight for equality.
"The cycles of poverty, discrimination, and sexism are much, much harder to break than the record for Grand Slam titles."
The story of Serena and her sister Venus was chronicled for children in the new book Sisters and Champions: The True Story of Venus and Serena Williams, available here, and the book Sisters: Venus & Serena Williams, available here.