Serena Williams has spoke out in support of Nike’s decision to make former NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick the face of its new advertising campaign after reaching the semi-finals of the U.S. Open on Tuesday.
“He’s done a lot for the African American community, and it’s cost him a lot. It’s sad, but he continues to do the best that he can to support and having a huge company back him, you know it could be a controversial reason for this company, but they are not afraid and I feel like that was a really powerful statement to a lot of other companies’‘, Williams said.
Kaepernick sparked a national controversy by kneeling during the national anthem and was not offered a place on a team for the 2017 season.
He has since sued the NFL, accusing owners of colluding to blackball him and is still without a team.
Meanwhile, social media has reacted to the incident. While some posted images of destroying their Nike shoes, others showed images of theirs in support of the campaign.
Reuters said the company’s shares fell on Tuesday, closing down 3.2 percent.
Both Williams and Kaepernick have endorsement deals with Nike.
In an on-court interview after her match, Williams was told that film director Spike Lee, who watched her on Tuesday, had compared her to fellow African American sporting icons Muhammad Ali and Michael Jordan.
Former heavyweight champion Ali, who died in 2016, was known as much for his political activism as his boxing brilliance, speaking out racism, war and religious intolerance.
“To be compared to Ali or Jordan, I really have no words,” Williams said. “Mainly Ali, because he did so much for the sport, he did so much for the world, for everyone.
“That’s what I want to do and want to be remembered for.
“It’s not what I want to do on court, but how I can inspire people off the court, that’s my dream.”
U.S. President Donald Trump has been critical of athletes kneeling during the national anthem and has said he would love to see NFL owners fire football players who disrespect the American flag.