‘I think we need to get comfortable with having uncomfortable conversations’
Serena Williams is known to speak out on important issues, even if they prove painful on a personal level. This is something she proved this week, sitting down with 12-year-old Naomi Wadler to be interviewed on gun violence, as part of Wadler’s series, DiversiTea, on Ellen DeGeneres’ YouTube channel.
‘I was affected personally by gun violence,’ Serena told the 12-year-old interviewer. ‘My sister, unfortunately, passed from that.’
Serena and Venus’ half-sister, Yetunde Price, was shot dead in a 2003 drive-by shooting in Los Angeles by Robert Maxfield, who was sentenced to 15 years in jail.
‘People are talking about it now because it’s happening more widespread,’ Serena explained of gun violence. ‘But it’s been affecting our community for years.’
Explaining how she had dealt with her half-sister’s murder, Serena continued: ‘I think we need to get comfortable with having uncomfortable conversations. Situations are never really gonna get better if you always avoid it, you have to take it head-on.’
This comes after Yetunde’s murderer Robert Maxfield was released from prison last year on good behaviour, something Serena found out minutes before her match in the first round of the Silicon Valley Classic.
‘I couldn’t shake it out of my mind,’ Serena explained in her interview with Time after the match. ‘It was hard because all I think about is her kids – what they meant to me and how much I love them. No matter what, my sister is not coming back for good behaviour. It’s unfair that she’ll never have an opportunity to hug me.’
When asked if she has forgiven her sister’s killer, Serena replied: ‘I’m not there yet. I would like to practice what I preach, and teach Olympia that as well. I want to forgive. I have to get there. I’ll be there.’
Our thoughts are with Serena and her family.