U.S. Markets closed

Serena Williams Has A Message For Everyone Who Wants Her To Shut Up And Play

Serena Williams has a message for critics who want her to keep quiet about social issues and just play tennis. 

“The day I stop fighting for equality and for people that look like you and me will be the day I’m in my grave,” Williams vowed at a press conference on Saturday.

The comments were quickly echoed by soccer sensation Megan Rapinoe. 

“You know what? I’m gonna fight for equal pay every day, for myself, for my team, and for every single person out there,” Rapinoe said on NBC, adding:

“Man, woman, immigrant, U.S. citizen, person of color, whatever it may be. ‘Equal pay,’ as the great Serena Williams said, ‘til I’m in my grave.’” 

Williams, who has won 23 Grand Slam titles, fell just short on Saturday in her quest to tie Margaret Court’s record of 24, losing in the Wimbledon finals to Simona Halep.

Throughout her career, Williams has had to deal with plenty of criticism for being outspoken on issues such as sexismracism and the gender pay gap, especially as it related to women of color.  But more recently that criticism came from a surprising source: tennis legend and activist Billie Jean King.

King suggested earlier in the tournament that if Williams wanted a crack at the record, she should give up being a celebrity for a year and a half. 

“No more Met Galas,” King told the BBC. “Just stop all this insanity because she is trying to be everything.”

King was quick to add that this advice was for Williams if her main goal was to continue to break tennis records. 

“If she is quite happy the way she is, then fine,” King said. 

Also on HuffPost

On Dressing Her Body Type...

I look for things that are really great for curves. I have a really small waist, so I like high-waisted pieces. And I love tank tops. Photo: Getty Images

On Maintaining Her Hair...

It's hard. If you just embrace your natural curl and rock that, I think that's the best way to style it when working out. Photo: AFP

On Her Must-Have Beauty Product...

Right now it is actually eyeliner, which I actually just got into like four days ago. I think eyeliner is cool because you can jazz up your eyes and it helps to distract from other areas on the face that you may not feel comfortable with. Photo: Getty Images

On Her Nails...

OPI is coming out with some brand new gels that set in 30 seconds and I've been playing around with the set at home. I love Samoan Sand. It's really good for the season. For summer, I'm obviously really, really into brights. I'm excited about the Spider-Man nail polish collection and I love the red. Photo: Getty Images

On Keeping Her Cool...

One of the hottest places I've played was in Australia, where it was literally 142 degrees on the court and my shoes were melting. At the time, we had towels that they'd wrap in ice and tape to hold together. But by the time you'd put it around your neck, it's already melted. And my clothes got really wet and the last thing I needed was for my dress to be heavier than what it was. It's not a good look or idea. The Endura Cool towel -- and in pink because that's my favorite color -- works great when we need to cool down fast. Photo: AFP

On Getting A Bikini-Ready Body...

All you have really have to do is a great 30-minute run or walk to get in shape for bikini season. Sometimes it's hard because you don't have the time, but it's tough and you have to get it in. I focus on the core because as a tennis player you have to run, move and get balls. Lifting my own body weight is something I've recently started doing, too. Photo: Raydene Salinas

November 1998

Here's Ms. 17-year-old Serena at the Chase Championships in New York City. All about the beads.

July 2001

Wimbledon. 'Nuff said.

August 2002

Serena the Power Ranger plays Corina Morariu during the US Open at the USTA National Tennis Center in Flushing Meadows Corona Park.

August 2002

Serena rocks a Harry Winston diamond bracelet worth, oh, $29K. Ain't no thang.

July 2003

Looking super chic in black for the Wimbledon Ball at Savoy Hotel in London.

November 2004

At the film premiere of "After The Sunset" -- what? Does anyone have any recollection of this film?

September 2004

Belly baring at the Tommy Hilfiger show during Olympus Fashion Week Spring 2005 in Bryant Park, New York.

September 2004

Walking in her big black boots at the 2004 U.S. Open.

September 2006

Playing Amelie Mauresmo of France during the 2006 U.S. Open at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in Flushing Meadows Corona Park.

August 2007

Channeling Chanel at MTV's Total Request Live at the MTV Times Square Studios in New York City.

September 2008

Very Grace Kelly at The 60th Anniversary of the State of Israel honoring producer Arnon Milchan at Paramount Studios in Los Angeles, California.

September 2008

At the Zac Posen Spring 2009 fashion show during Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week in Bryant Park, New York.

September 2009

Looking dope at the premiere of "Whip It" in Los Angeles, California.

September 2010

Super sophisticated at the Rodarte Spring 2011 fashion show during Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week in New York City.

September 2011

Looking her plum best at the New Yorkers for Children Fall Gala at Cipriani 42nd Street in New York City.

Love HuffPost? Become a founding member of HuffPost Plus today.

This article originally appeared on HuffPost.