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Serena Williams Writes Essay On Pay Gap For Black Women

Serena Williams of the United States celebrates winning a point in the Final Of The Ladies' Singles against Garbine Muguruza of Spain during day twelve of the Wimbledon Lawn Tennis Championships at the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club on July 11, 2015 in London. (Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images)Serena Williams of the United States celebrates winning a point in the Final Of The Ladies' Singles against Garbine Muguruza of Spain during day twelve of the Wimbledon Lawn Tennis Championships at the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club on July 11, 2015 in London. (Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images)

Serena Williams is taking some time away from tennis to prepare for her baby, but she’s also focused her energy on a fight that feels strongly about — closing the pay gap for black women.

In a personal essay published by Fortune on Monday, the 23-time Grand Slam champion sought to shine a light on the “long-neglected fact that the gender pay gap hits women of color the hardest.”

REUTERS/Jason Reed

“Black women are 37 cents behind men in the pay gap—in other words, for every dollar a man makes, black women make 63 cents,” Serena began. (RELATED: John McEnroe Just Ranked Serena Williams As A Tennis Player And She’s Nowhere Near The Top)

“I’d like to acknowledge the many realities black women face every day,” Williams wrote. “To recognize that women of color have to work–on average–eight months longer to earn the same as their male counterparts do in one year. To bring attention to the fact that black women earn 17% less than their white female counterparts and that black women are paid 63% of the dollar men are paid. Even black women who have earned graduate degrees get paid less at every level.”

Although Williams admitted she’s in a “rare position to be financially successful beyond [her] imagination,” the tennis star is doing all she can to close the gap for her fellow African American women.

“I had talent, I worked like crazy and I was lucky enough to break through,” Serena wrote. “But today isn’t about me. It’s about the other 24 million black women in America. If I never picked up a tennis racket, I would be one of them; that is never lost on me.”

“The cycles of poverty, discrimination, and sexism are much, much harder to break than the record for Grand Slam titles,” Williams continued. “For every black woman that rises through the ranks to a position of power, there are too many others who are still struggling.”

(Photo credit: REUTERS/Issei Kato)

Williams joined SurveyMonkey’s board of directors to gather Americas’ opinions on the issue and is now determined to spread the word and effect change with the results.

“Black women: Be fearless. Speak out for equal pay,” she wrote, ending her essay on a powerful note. “Every time you do, you’re making it a little easier for a woman behind you. Most of all, know that you’re worth it … Let’s get back those 37 cents.”

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