After the glitz and glam of Sunday's 2019 Academy Awards, the biggest star of the night may have been Serena Williams after she took a major stance against sexism in Nike’s new ad campaign.
Williams narrated and appeared in an ad called “Dream Crazier,” which premiered during the awards show. The commercial highlights female athletes who have overcome barriers in sports, including fencer Ibtihaj Muhammad, who became the first Muslim woman wearing a hijab to represent the US at the Olympics; 10-year-old pro-skateboarder Sky Brown; Becky Hammon, who is the first female full-time employee on an NBA coaching staff; Olympic gymnast Simone Biles; and more.
Each clip of these women breaking glass ceilings is paired with the sexist language that’s often used to dismiss women in sports, such as “hysterical” and “crazy.”
“If we show emotion, we’re called dramatic,” Williams says in the ad. “If we want to play against men, we’re nuts. And if we dream of equal opportunity, we’re delusional. When we stand for something, we’re unhinged. When we’re too good, there’s something wrong with us. And if we get angry, we’re hysterical, irrational, or just being crazy.”
This ad is part of Nike’s Dream Crazier campaign, which highlights female athletes who overcame gender discrimination and defied the odds.
“The year-long journey to inspire the next generation of athletes to Just Do It enters into its next phase with the Dream Crazier spot," Nike said in a press release. "Nike continues to champion female athletes and change the game for women in sports as it has for more than 40 years — inspiring and enabling female athletes of all levels to achieve their potential in sport and fitness."
Williams, who is also featured in the video herself, has faced sexism in the past. In September, she was infamously penalized for code violations and “verbal abuse,” and was fined $17,000 for protesting the referee during a match in ways that men often get away with.
“There are men out here that have said a lot things and because they are men that doesn’t happen to them,” Williams told one official. “Because I’m a woman, you’re going to take this away from me? That is not right.”
Many commentators agreed with her, noting that male athletes have often gone unchecked for the same behavior.
I guess sometimes it’s a meltdown and other times it’s just arguing a strike 🤷🏻♂️ pic.twitter.com/I3ZyxBMzGT— Josh Billinson (@jbillinson) September 8, 2018
Read More: Serena Williams Is Calling Out Sexism in Her Sport — and She's Not Alone
Following Nike’s campaign, there has been overwhelming support for William’s empowering message across social media.
New @serenawilliams Nike Ad is fire 🔥— Dawn Mitchell (@DawnAtFOX9) February 25, 2019
It resonates w me on so many levels. If you understand it you just may understand me a little bit more. I love @LynxCoachReeve is in it 🙌 I’ve been called a lot of things as an athlete & as a broadcaster. Crazy?
We’ll show you crazy. 💪
In the ad, Williams reclaims the word “crazy” by using it to describe winning 23 grand slams, giving birth, and returning back to the court shortly after.
“So, if they want to call you crazy, fine,” she says. “Show them what crazy can do.”