It’s no secret that Serena and Venus Williams have many reasons to be proud. They’re incredible athletes who have broken tennis records both together and solo, and they have a famously strong bond as sisters. Knowing what we know today, it’s downright baffling to think that someone might have ever questioned what they had to be confident about. However, one (white, male) interviewer asked Venus just that in a throwback video that recently resurfaced on YouTube. And her father, Richard Williams, wasn’t having it.
The video, which was shared by Twitter user Ric Wilson on August 28th, features a clip of 14-year-old Venus in an interview on ABC News’ Day One in 1995. In the clip, correspondent John McKenzie asks the up-and-coming tennis star if she thinks she can beat an opponent she’s about to face. When Venus smiles and says she knows she can win the match, McKenzie looks surprised.
At that moment, Venus’s father steps in, criticizing the journalist for questioning his daughters response.
Many Twitter users applauded Williams for sticking up for his daughter and for making sure no one made her feel like she shouldn’t have a strong sense of self-worth.
Others pointed out that McKenzie’s line of questioning felt like a subtle put-down.
And for anyone out there who thinks Richard Williams overreacted, consider this: A 2011 survey from the United Kingdom’s Institute of Leadership and Management found that only half of women had high or relatively high levels of confidence (compared to 70% of men). More relevant still, a 2017 survey of 2,000 women performed by Glamour and L’Oreal Paris found that only 44% of black women describe themselves as successful.
Richard Williams was merely attempting to make sure his daughter’s confidence remained in tact in a world that regularly questions, scrutinizes, and diminishes the achievements of black girls and women.
We’re bowing down to this fierce father—and his fiercely talented daughter.