Serena Williams made it to her ninth career Wimbledon singles final on Thursday, defeating Russian Elena Vesnina 6–2, 6–0 in a remarkable 48 minutes. But after the match, her 22nd Grand Slam singles title was not the only thing on her mind.
Just about an hour after finishing her press conference, Serena tweeted for the first time since her victory: “In London I have to wake up to this. He was black. Shot 4 times? When will something be done- no REALLY be done?!?!”
Her tweet linked to text detailing the killing of Philando Castile in St. Paul, Minnesota by police. His girlfriend, Lavish Reynolds, streamed the aftermath of the shooting on Facebook Live, and the story went viral.
In London I have to wake up to this. He was black. Shot 4 times? When will something be done- no REALLY be done?!?! pic.twitter.com/OaLn60G6nm
— Serena Williams (@serenawilliams) July 7, 2016
Reynolds says that Castile was merely reaching for his wallet to show the officer his identification card after they pulled his car over for a broken taillight. He warned the officer that he had a gun — which Castile says he was licensed to carry — but the officer shot him five times anyways. Reynolds’ 4-year-old daughter was in the backseat the whole time.
This is not the first time that Serena has spoken out against police killings of black people. In August, she expressed her outrage after Christian Taylor, a football player at Angelo State University in Texas, was shot and killed by police when they responded to a burglary at a car dealership. Taylor was unarmed.
Really??????!!!!!!!!!!? are we all sleeping and this is one gigantic bad nightmare? #ChristianTaylor how many hashtags now?
— Serena Williams (@serenawilliams) August 8, 2015
As a black woman in an overwhelmingly white sport, race has always been a big part of the Serena Williams story. While she is a Jehovah’s Witness and therefore does not get involved in politics, she has become more confident talking about issues of race and equality in society as she has gotten older. When Serena returned to Indian Wells last year, 14 years after being showered with boos and racial slurs in the final, she used the publicity around her return to raise money for the Equal Justice Initiative, a nonprofit organization that provides legal representation to indigent defendants and prisoners who have been denied fair and just treatment in the legal system.
Last fall, she voiced her support for the Black Lives Matter movement.
“So to those of you involved in equality movements like Black Lives Matter, I say this: Keep it up. Don’t let those trolls stop you,” Serena wrote in Wired. “We’ve been through so much for so many centuries, and we shall overcome this too.”
Serena will face Angelique Kerber in the Wimbledon final on Saturday for a shot at the tennis record books. However, by using her significant platform to shine a light on police brutality against black men and women, she is making a significant impact off the court as well.
So often, athletes are told to “stick to sports.” Thankfully, in this case, Serena and plenty of other athletes haven’t heeded that advice.
Police Officer Guns Down Black Driver In Front Of His Girlfriend And Her ChildJustice by CREDIT: Facebook/Lavish Reynolds On the heels of Alton Sterling’s brutal shooting in Louisiana, which…thinkprogress.org