- Serena Williams said Nike is “is “learning from mistakes and doing better” after the recent controversy over its pay for pregnant female athletes.
- In recent weeks, several female track runners said Nike did not financially support them when they got pregnant, with one runner calling getting pregnant “the kiss of death for female athletes.”
- Williams, who was paid by Nike through her pregnancy in 2017, said Nike has made a strong statement in changes to support pregnant female athletes and will continue to do so.
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Serena Williams said Nike is “learning from mistakes and doing better” after recent controversies over maternity pay for its female athletes.
In op-eds published in The New York Times, track runners including Allyson Felix, Alysia Montano, and Kara Goucher said Nike did not financially back them while they got pregnant.The Times reported that Nike’s contracts for runners said the company could reduce pay at any time, including for not meeting certain performance thresholds.
In the wake of the op-eds, Nike announced they would be making changes to their maternity policies, waiving performance-pay reductions for 12 months for women who get pregnant.
The Times reported that Nike continued to pay Williams during her pregnancy in 2017.
“I understand that Nike has been really lately supporting women a lot, and they started with making a statement with me, and they said they want to make a change and want to support women that want to have families and want to be mums,” Williams said from the French Open.
“I’m glad that statement was made, and I know that herefore and going forward, they’re doing better. And that’s what it’s about – learning from mistakes and doing better.”
Williams said she believes more and more people recognise that women can be athletes and mothers at the same time.
Runner Phoebe Wright, who was sponsored by Nike from 2010-2016, told the Times that getting pregnant was “the kiss of death for a female athlete.”
“As time goes on and technology changes and as the world changes, people realise that we have to change our policies,” Williams said. “We have to look at old policies and change them. And I think Nike wanted to do that.”
Williams said she thought Nike made a “bold statement” by continuing to pay her through her pregnancy and she said they would continue to make that statement going forward.
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