For tennis star Serena Williams , joining the fight against domestic and financial violence is crucial to not only being a strong role model, but to being a mother to 9-month-old daughter Alexis Olympia.
The athlete has teamed up with Allstate Foundation’s Purple Purse initiative where she aims to be a powerful voice to speak up for others who may not be able to.
“These women probably can’t use their voice so it’s important for them to know that there are people out there that are using their voice and letting them know that there is a place, that we can do something about it,” the superstar said at an event for the initiative on Wednesday.
According to Allstate, one in four women will experience domestic violence in her lifetime, with 99 percent of cases being financial abuse. As a new mother, these shocking statistics really hit home, Williams, 36, told PEOPLE.
“Having a daughter means that she’s one in four. Hopefully those stats don’t go up by the time she’s dating and meeting people, but they can if you don’t make people aware of it,” she said.
Williams recalled wanting to join Purple Purse after realizing how little she knew about the subject, figuring that many other people were in the dark about the issue as well.
“[Domestic abuse] is a subject that people are not really comfortable talking about, but sometimes talking about the uncomfortable is what we have to do,” Williams said. “We’re doing that now with Me Too, with Times Up, and I feel like we’re making those steps. We want to make this a movement.”
As a frequent advocate for women’s rights and equal pay in sports, Williams doesn’t shy away from reminding women that their voice deserves to be heard. The best advice she can give to both her daughter and women today is to “always speak up, and from the first day.”