This past Sunday, Nike caught the attention of millions, presenting their new advertisement at the Oscars, which was narrated by Serena Williams. Williams and Nike call out gender bias within the world of sport, while also displaying a celebration of female athletes and their inspiring successes. This powerful commercial included a handful of professional female athletes such as USA gymnast Simone Biles, snowboarder Chloe Kim and members of the USA women’s soccer team. Nike released a similar advertisement called “Dream Crazy” in September 2018 which included Colin Kaepernick, a strong advocate for racial minorities and racial oppression within sport.
Despite being one of the greatest tennis players in history, Serena Williams has faced her fair share of adversity and manifestations of inequality. A notable example would be the U.S. open last September as she competed for her 24th Grand Slam against Naomi Osaka. Williams got into a heated argument with a chair umpire which ultimately resulted in her defeat. Such outbursts are undoubtedly accepted and encouraged from male athletes (to a certain extent), but it is not the same for female athletes, which sparks debates regarding sexism and equality in sport. Serena is well-known not only as a tennis player but as a strong advocate for gender equality, race equality, and acts as a symbol counteracting sexism in sport.
This ad brings to attention the idea of the gender double standard, an issue too common within the game of sport today. The message portrayed comes across loud and clear: for women to excel in sports means overcoming barriers men don’t have to think twice about. Janet Fink argues that “sexism in sport is treated quite differently than other types of discrimination,” which raises the heated argument of equality between genders in today’s society. Areas of improvement include media coverage, financial incomes and the differences between athletic team budgets. There is no doubt that women have advanced within sport and media coverage and positive support is increasing, but there is still a dramatic difference between male and female treatment and consequences.
This ad shines a spotlight on female athletes who have broken barriers, inspired generations of athletes and proved that their goals are considered crazy until accomplished. Sports continued to be male-dominated and favoured, but brands like Nike and athletes such as Serena Williams are breaking boundaries and proving that females are advancing in the world of sport.