People Magazine
September 20, 2018 12:15 pm

LeBron James is sticking up for a fellow sports legend, Serena Williams, after the tennis player blamed her U.S. Open women’s singles final violations on sexism. The brand-new Los Angeles Laker, 33, told The Hollywood Reporter in the outlet’s latest cover story, “What we all have to understand is what she is fighting for is bigger than just that match. She is fighting for equality—always having to win more, more, more, just to feel equal.”

Earlier this month, Williams, who lost the U.S. Open final to Naomi Osaka, called chair umpire Carlos Ramos “a thief” during a match in which he penalized her for illegal coaching, breaking her racket and verbal abuse. At a press conference afterwards, Williams, 36, said,

She noted, “I just feel like the fact that I have to go through this is just an example for the next person that has emotions and that want to express themselves and they want to be a strong woman, and they’re going to be allowed to do that because of today.”

James talked about the burden that Williams is bearing in the new interview.

James also discussed Donald Trump‘s criticism of him from August, which came after the athlete said on CNN that the president is “dividing” the country. Trump tweeted, “LeBron James was just interviewed by the dumbest man on television, Don Lemon. He made LeBron look smart, which isn’t easy to do. I like Mike!”

James told THR that Trump calling him “dumb” does not irritate him “because I’m not.” He added to the outlet, “That’s like somebody saying I can’t play ball. That doesn’t bother me at all. What bothers me is that he has time to even do that. He has the most powerful job in the world. Like, you really got this much time that you can comment on me?”

James also commented on the NBA’s differences from the NFL when it comes to protests, like the take a knee movement. He said, “[With the NFL] it’s the owners saying, ‘Do what we tell you to do, this is our league, our team. And you do what the hell I tell you to do.’ “