Serena Williams Encourages Caitlin Clark to 'Continue Doing What She’s Doing’ and Avoid Critics

The 23-time Grand Slam champion offered advice to the WNBA rookie during a recent appearance on the red carpet

<p>Pierre Mouton/Getty; Andy Lyons/Getty</p> Serena Williams and Caitlin Clark

Pierre Mouton/Getty; Andy Lyons/Getty

Serena Williams and Caitlin Clark
  • Serena Williams gave her wisdom to Caitlin Clark as a former young athlete

  • Clark has dealt with rising criticism over everything from hard fouls against her to how she defends her fellow WNBA players from online vitriol

  • Williams advised Clark to "just continue to do what she's doing"

Serena Williams is sharing some advice with WNBA rookie phenom Caitlin Clark.

Williams, 42, was asked about Clark, 22, and what advice she’d share with the basketball star during an appearance on the red carpet last Thursday for the premiere of her upcoming ESPN+ docuseries, In The Arena: Serena Williams.

The 23-time Grand Slam winner said she was “bullied” early on in her career and could empathize with the pressures Clark is facing from critics during her rookie season.

"I was bullied,” Williams told the media at the event, according to ESPN. “Things that I had to go through, people would be canceled for saying now. 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 added that she thinks it’s a positive move for Clark to remain off social media to avoid getting bogged down in criticism.

"I love that she tries to stay grounded,” Williams said in another portion of the interview shared by the Associated Press. “She says she doesn't look at her social [media]. I get it. I don't either. 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, basically. Hopefully she'll continue to do what she's doing."

Related: Caitlin Clark Says It’s ‘Disappointing’ Her Name Is Used for Racism, Misogyny Towards Other WNBA Players

<p>G Fiume/Getty </p> Caitlin Clark

G Fiume/Getty

Caitlin Clark

Clark has been the focus of much discussion around the WNBA so far this season, coming into the league as the No. 1 overall draft pick after dominating college basketball and becoming the NCAA’s all-time leading scorer.

Throughout the first 15 games of her career, Clark has already found herself the subject of debate over hard fouls from veteran players and whether she deserved to be named to the U.S. women’s basketball team at the upcoming 2024 Olympics in Paris.

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Last week, Clark told reporters she found it “disappointing” that those participating in such debates on social media would use her name to spew racist or misogynistic messages.

"Treating every single woman in this league with the same amount of respect, I think, is just a basic human thing that everybody should do," Clark said, after Connecticut Sun guard Dijonai Carrington called out the Indiana Fever rookie for not speaking out against those using her name to spread hateful messages online. "Just be a kind person and treat them how you would want to be treated. I think that's very simple."

Related: NBA Commissioner Says Caitlin Clark Is 'Generating Tremendous Additional Interest' for WNBA

<p>Michael Loccisano/Getty Images</p> Serena Williams

Michael Loccisano/Getty Images

Serena Williams

Williams, who found herself at the center of discussions about racism and sexism in sport throughout her career, implored Clark last week to continue to push through the negativity.

Williams consistently dealt with hateful situations throughout her 27-year career, from debate over her on-court attire at the French Open to a 2018 racist cartoon in Australia’s Herald Sun newspaper, among several other instances throughout her career.

The tennis legend addressed her approach to dealing with racism and sexism in sport, including in a 2017 TED Talk. “For me it’s really important to hold women up,” Williams said. “It’s something, these young women, they’ll come to the locker room, they’ll want to take pictures with me. For me, I want to be a good leader and a good example for them.”

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