Williams hopes Clark will 'continue to do what she's doing'

June 15, 2024, 5:19 PM

Tennis great Serena Williams said she understands why WNBA rookie Caitlin Clark avoids social media and that she hopes the Indiana Fever star tunes out negativity.

Williams, the winner of 23 Grand Slam tournaments, spoke to media at the Tribeca Film Festival in New York on Thursday at a premiere for "In The Arena: Serena Williams," an eight-episode docuseries that will air on ESPN+ beginning July 10.

"I was bullied. Things that I had to go through, people would be canceled for saying now," Williams said of the scrutiny she and her sister Venus faced from fans, media and other players when they entered the elite tennis world. "My position in growing up, as a teenager, I kind of had to be guarded to kind of stay sane. Just [getting] so much press and doing everything I was doing and traveling the globe every year. It was every week. It was a grind."

Williams was asked about the attention that Clark, the No. 1 WNBA draft pick, is dealing with now as a first-year pro. Clark has been at the center of a lot of media and social media debate and discussion, including why she did not make the U.S. Olympic basketball roster for this summer's Paris Games. 

"I love that she tries to stay grounded. She says she doesn't look at her social [media]. I get it. I don't either," Williams said of Clark. "I think it's so important to just continue to do what she's doing. No matter what other people do. If people are negative, it's because they can't do what you do. Hopefully she'll continue to do what she's doing."

Clark has frequently said she tries to stay off social media. She said Thursday that she is opposed to any racist and misogynist "agendas" online.

"People should not be using my name to push those agendas," Clark said before the Fever's game Thursday. "It's disappointing. It's not acceptable. Treating every single woman in this league with the same amount of respect, I think, it's just a basic human thing that everybody should do."