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Serena Williams is a tennis champion and a mom-to-be. What she's not is someone who allows racist comments to stay unchallenged — especially when those comments involve her unborn child. When Ilie Nastase, the Romanian Fed Cup captain, made racist comments regarding Williams' child with her fiancé, Reddit cofounder Alexis Ohanian, Williams did not stay silent. Instead, she took to Facebook to call Nastase out for being the worst.
As ESPN reports, Nastase's made the controversial comment about the four-time Olympic gold medal winner during a press conference on Saturday. Nastase was overheard talking about Williams' baby, whom Williams announced she was pregnant with via Snapchat story earlier in April. According to ESPN, Nastase was overheard saying of the baby: "Let's see what colour it has. Chocolate with milk?"
The comment seemingly referred to the fact that Ohanian is white, while Williams is Black.
In a powerful statement on her Facebook page, Williams wrote:
"It disappoints me to know we live in a society where people like Ilie Nastase can make such racist comments towards myself and unborn child, and sexist comments against my peers.
"I have said it once and I'll say it again, this world has come so far but yet we have so much further to go. Yes, we have broken down so many barriers- however, there are a plethora more to go. Tis or anything else will not stop me from pouring love, light and positivity into everything that I do. I will continue to take a lead and stand up for what's right."
Williams then added a quote from Maya Angelou's poem "Still I Rise," an indication that she would not back down from combating the world's hate:
"I am not afraid unlike you. You see, I am no coward. 'Does my sassiness upset you? Why are you beset with gloom?
"You may shoot me with your words... you may try to kill me with your hatefulness, but still like air I rise."
She then added her thanks to the International Tennis Federation, whom Bleacher Report states is investigating the incident, writing:
"I humbly thank the ITF for any consideration given to all the facts in this case. They will have my full support."
Of the incident, the ITF released a statement via the Press Association:
"The ITF does not tolerate discriminatory and offensive language and behaviour of any kind... We are aware of alleged comments made by Romanian captain Ilie Nastase and have begun an immediate investigation so that we have the full facts of the situation before taking further and appropriate action."
While words may be "just words," they fuel hate and should not be tolerated. Fortunately, people like Williams are unafraid to stand up for what's right — and will forever rise up when confronted with bigotry, even in the form of "jokes."