Serena Williams stands by Nike, says ‘they want to support women that want to have families’

Serena Williams of the U.S. plays a shot against Vitalia Diatchenko of Russia during their first round match of the French Open tennis tournament at the Roland Garros stadium in Paris, Monday, May 27, 2019. ((AP Photo/Pavel Golovkin))

Serena Williams has faith in her longtime sponsor Nike after the brand was hit with backlash recently for freezing compensation for some pregnant women under endorsement deals.

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Williams addressed the media after coming off a victory in the first round of the French Open, saying that the sportswear company had been “supporting women a lot” as of late “and it started with making a statement with me,” Reuters reported Monday.

“They want to support women that want to have families and that want to be moms,” the tennis star said. “I’m glad that statement was made, and I know that therefore and going forward, they’re doing better.”

Following the backlash, Nike announced earlier this month that it was adding language to future contracts that would protect female athletes’ pay during pregnancy.

“Moving forward, our contracts for female athletes will include written terms that reinforce our policy. We recognize we can do more and that there is an important opportunity for the sports industry to evolve to support female athletes,” a spokesman told The Wall Street Journal, adding that the company “will provide appropriate assurances for existing contracts to reinforce our policy.”

Although current contracts will not be altered, female athletes will reportedly also receive the same protection.

The move came in response to articles published in The New York Times in which current and former Nike-sponsored runners — including six-time Olympic champion Allyson Felix — described financial penalties that Nike athletes faced if they wanted to have children.

Williams is a mom herself – she gave birth to a baby girl in 2017. But her contract with the athletic company remained unchanged while she was pregnant, Reuters said, citing The New York Times.

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As time and society progress, Williams said she thinks policies need to be reexamined and believes “that Nike wanted to do that, and they started doing that,” according to the report.

“And so I think they made a really bold statement by doing that with me, and I think they’re going to — I know, actually, that they’re going to continue to make that statement,” she said.

Fox Business’ Katherine Lam and The Associated Press contributed to this report.