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Even with her stardom in the tennis world, Venus Williams knows what it feels like to be underpaid and undervalued.

“I came into inequality at the young age of 16 when I played my first Grand Slam and that’s a rude awakening, so I don’t want any other young women to have to face that,” the 41-year-old athlete told Gayle King during an interview on CBS.

The California native secured her first Grand Slam win in 1998 and went on to earn four Olympic gold medals during her historic run on the court. In 2007, Williams made history by becoming the first woman to earn the same prize money as men’s singles winner Roger Federer. While she was honored by the accolade, the seven-time Grand Slam champ felt as though the win issued a loud message about pay disparities among female players in the tennis industry. Now, Williams is working hard to close the gender pay gap with her Privilege Tax organization.

During her appearance on CBS, the star revealed that 100 percent of the money she earns through the initiative will be donated to Girls Inc, a nonprofit dedicated to empowering girls and young women. Brands who opt to partner with Privilege Tax can donate $1 in an effort to close the glaring pay gap. Customers who purchase items from Williams’ clothing brand EleVen can also partake in the game-changing program. “It’s important to call attention to this. That people know this because women not only need equal opportunity, but it gives them the opportunity to grow and become strong and to help their families,” the tennis star continued.

In 2021, the U.S. Department of Labor published a stunning report from the U.S Census Bureau that found women overall make 83 cents for every dollar a man makes. Upon breaking down the data by race, Black and Brown women were the lowest earners, making $0.64 and $0.57 for every dollar, respectively. Williams told viewers that she’s “happy” she can use her platform as a way to shed light on the growing issue.

 “It’s a very important role that I never thought I’d play. I just wanted to win Wimbledon! I got there, it wasn’t equal, and it’s just led me to this place where I’m able to do more than I ever could have thought I could do,” she added.

The move comes following the U.S. Women’s National Team’s ( USWNT) landmark agreement with the American governing body to end a toiling six-year legal battle over equal pay. Now, the U.S. Soccer Federation (USSF)  must pay their female players a whopping $24 million in retroactive bonuses to match the compensation of the league’s male soccer players. According to the Huffington Post,the USSF also agreed to establish a fund with $2 million to benefit the players in their post-soccer careers and charitable efforts aimed at growing the sport for women.”

RELATED CONTENT: Venus Williams Tells Loved Ones She’s Not ‘Desperate’ To Marry And Have Kids: ‘I Like My Life And I Don’t Want To Change It For Any Reason’

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