From Olivia Colman’s speech to Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper’s performance, the 2019 Oscars had a few somewhat unexpected emotional moments. But the most moving one came not from the telecast itself, but from an ad during a break in the show — courtesy of Serena Williams.
The greatest athlete of all time headlined a new Nike ad that premiered during the ceremony, paying tribute to female athletes and highlighting icons like gymnast Simone Biles, fencer Ibtihaj Muhammad, and, of course, Williams herself. The ad, titled “Dream Crazier,” takes aim at dismissive descriptions of female athletes, and particularly at the word “crazy.”
“If we show emotion, we’re called dramatic,” Williams says in the ad. “If we want to play against men, we’re nuts. And if we dream of equal opportunity, we’re delusional. When we stand for something, we’re unhinged. When we’re too good, there’s something wrong with us. And if we get angry, we’re hysterical, irrational, or just being crazy.”
Williams, who has long been the subject of racist and sexist criticism, seems to be directly addressing the way she’s been treated as a woman in sports. In September 2018, she was penalized for showing her rage at the U.S. Open final, and was fined $17,000 after she broke her racket in anger and was accused of “verbal abuse” toward a chair umpire — all things people have cited to accuse her of being “crazy.”
But what else is “crazy,” according to Williams? The feats that female athletes have accomplished, like boxing, dunking, competing in a hijab, and, as she did, “winning 23 grand slams, having a baby, and then coming back for more.”
“So if they want to call you crazy, fine,” she says. “Show them what crazy can do.”