Tennis ace Serena Williams warmly praised Colin Kaepernick and his former San Francisco 49ers teammate Eric Reid on Friday, saying “every athlete, every human” should to be grateful to them for protesting for “the greater good.”
Williams spoke out after the football stars watched her trounce sister Venus Williams in their U.S. Open match. The men were greeted with loud applause when they were introduced during the match and were shown on the big screen at the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in Queens, New York. Kaepernick smiled and Reid raised a fist, The Washington Post reported.
Both men withstood criticism while continuing to kneel during the national anthem at the start of their NFL games to protest police brutality and racial inequality. The movement, which spread to other players, has been attacked by President Donald Trump, who has demanded protesting players be suspended or fired.
“I think every athlete, every human and definitely every African-American should be completely grateful and honored how Colin and Eric are doing so much more for the greater good,” Williams said after her match, The Associated Press reported.
“They really use their platform in ways that is really unfathomable,” she said. “I feel like they obviously have great respect from a lot of their peers, especially other athletes, people that really are looking for social change.”
Williams also greeted Reid’s niece after the match.
Both Reid and Kaepernick are now free agents. Kaepernick last played in late 2016 and Reid in 2017.
Kaepernick won an arbitration decision Thursday against the NFL allowing him to move forward with a lawsuit against the league. The action accuses officials of violating the collective bargaining contract with players by colluding to keep him off teams to punish him for his protests. A similar grievance from Reid against the league is pending.
Williams defeated her sister 6-1, 6-2. She next faces Kaia Kanepi of Estonia on Sunday.