Special to USA TODAY
Published 5:25 p.m. UTC Sep 5, 2018
NEW YORK — For the second time at the US Open, Serena Williams has supported Colin Kaepernick, who is now the face of Nike’s 30th anniversary “Just Do It” campaign.
On Monday, Williams commented on social media - “Especially proud to be a part of the Nike family today” - in support of Nike’s decision to select the former NFL quarterback as the brand’s latest advertisement role model.
Kaepernick made headlines for protesting policy brutality toward African Americans by taking a knee during the playing of the national anthem at football games. He was not hired by any NFL team last season.
After Williams’ 6-4 6-3 quarterfinal win against Karolina Pliskova on Tuesday night, she explained why she is proud of the Nike ad, which has been received with mixed reviews. Many naysayers have called for a boycott of Nike, and some people were throwing out or burning their Nike gear.
“Well, I mean, he's done a lot for the African American community, and it's cost him a lot,” Williams said. “It's sad. But he continues to do the best that he can to support. Having a huge company back him, you know, could be controversial for this company, but they're not afraid. I feel like that was a really powerful statement to a lot of other companies.”
Williams said she doesn’t believe an athlete is obligated to take a stance on any social issues.
“I think everyone has a choice to do what they choose to do,” she said. “Whether they protest it, which is a peaceful protest actually, or not, that it's the choice of being American. It doesn't make them less American.
“And I think that's also something that's really interesting, is the fact that we all make up this world, because we have different views and different views on different views things, but that doesn't mean we can't be loving toward each other,” she added.
President Trump: Nike's Colin Kaepernick ad sends 'terrible message'
More: With Nike ad campaign, Colin Kaepernick can take activism to all-world level
Kaepernick was at the US Open on Sunday night watching Williams win her fourth-round match against Kaia Kanepi of Estonia.