Jemele Hill On The Backlash Of Serena Williams | Jemele's Journey

Jun 13, 2019

Last week, you heard "Jemele's Journey" which detailed the career of media powerhouse Jemele Hill, who is an MSU alum and Detroit native. On the second installment of the month-long series, we bring you conversation between Hill and the host of Current Sports, Al Martin, centered on tennis star Serena Williams, who has not always been well-received for her outspokenness for the rights of women and minorities.

Hill explains why that is.


Serena Williams is THE name you think of when talking about women's tennis. Her countless accomplishments within the sport speak for themselves, but it's her voice away from the tennis court that sometimes rubs people the wrong way.

As her career has progressed, Williams has become more and more vocal when it comes to speaking up for the rights of women and minorities here in America. In 2016 she voiced her support of the Black Lives Matter movement, calling out concern for her nephew in regards to police officers due to the color of his skin. She has also not been shy of speaking up for the rights of women, expressing that take after her loss to Naomi Osaka in the 2018 US Open. But, why is Serena scruintinzed from many in the public sphere when she decides to express herself in this way?

Credit WKAR - MSU

Current Sports host Al Martin talked with reknown broadcaster / media personality Jemele Hill about that very topic, and Hill emphasizes that there are many layers to the conversation, but one thing is constant. 

"The reaction to Serena is really no different than the reaction we've seen whenever people of color have dared to publically challenge a system," says Hill. "It is going to make people uncomfortable and it's going to draw backlash." 

"You know a lot of people just want athletes, especially black athletes, to be here purely for their entertainment. They don't want to hear about what it's actually like to live the black experience," says Hill. "For her to always be willing to kind of put herself, to some degree, on that firing squad I think it just speaks to her maturity and just her growth and her willingness to be a role model and to be bigger than just being Serena Williams: greatest female tennis player of all-time."

Listen to the entire conversation above. 

Note: Hill is now a staff writer for “The Atlantic,” covering sports, race, politics, and pop culture. She has also launched a new podcast in April entitled “Jemele Hill is Unbothered.”