Serena Williams Opens Up to Youth Activist About Her Sister’s Murder
“It was a really difficult time for me and my family,” Williams told Naomi Wadler about Yetunde Price’s death.
At age 11, youth activist Naomi Wadler gave a rousing speech during the March for Our Lives rally in Washington, D.C., in 2018. She was there to represent Black women and girls who were victims of gun violence, explaining how their stories aren’t told in the mainstream media.
Wadler, now age 12, is the host of DiversiTea, a six-episode digital series from The Ellen DeGeneres Show. Her first guest on the show, which debuted on Friday, was tennis great Serena Williams.
The young activist referred to her speech during the March for Our Lives rally.
“I wanted to specifically talk about how gun violence affected Black women because that was kind of getting lost in the noise,” Walder says.
“I was personally affected by gun violence,” Williams responds. “My sister unfortunately passed from that. So, that was a really difficult time for me and my family.”
In 2003, at age 31, Yetunde Price, Williams’ sister, was a victim of gun violence. Price, the mother of three, lost her life while driving with her boyfriend in Compton, Calif.
The killer, Robert Edward Maxfield, was believed to be targeting another person who belonged to a rival gang. Maxfield only served a 12-year sentence. He was released from prison last year.
Yetunde served as a personal assistant for both Serena and Venus as their careers gained traction. She was also a registered nurse, co-owner of a beauty salon, and mother to three children Jeffrey, Justus, and Jair.
The Violence Policy Center’s (VPC) annual study covers homicides involving one female murder victim and one male offender. The 2018 study analyzed 2016 information from the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Supplementary Homicide data. (The VPC said that was the most recent available data.)
“In 2016, 517 Black females were murdered by males in single victim/single offender incidents, at a rate of 2.62 per 100,000,” the study states.
“In comparison, the rate for white women murdered by males for that year was 1.03 per 100,000. Nationwide, across all races, 1,809 females were murdered by males in single victim/single offender incidents in 2016, at a rate of 1.20 per 100,000.
Williams tells Waldler that she created the Yetunde Price Resource Center, “to provide a resource for people who have been affected by gun violence.”
She continues, “People are talking about it now because it’s happening more widespread. But it’s been affecting our community for years.”
“I think we need to get comfortable with having uncomfortable conversations.
“Situations are never really gonna get better if you always avoid it, you have to take it head-on.”
Being a Role Model
“You’re a role model for so many little Black girls around the world, what advice do you have for us when it comes to standing in our power?” Wadler asks Williams.
Williams responds that it is really important to “stand up for what we believe in” and “believe that we do have power.”
“You’re also a role model for so many little white girls around the world, what advice do you have for them on becoming good allies?” Wadler asks.
“I like to be a role model for all girls,” Williams explains. “And, I’d really like to say that it doesn’t matter what you look like, if you’re white, if you’re Black, if you’re Asian, where you’re from, I wanna be that person that can help you and motivate you.”
Walder said her biggest takeaway from her interview with Williams is “Black Girl Magic is real. She inspired me so much.”