Serena Williams Jul 9 2016; London, United Kingdom; Serena Williams (USA) with her trophy after her match against Angelique Kerber (GER) at the trophy presentation on day 13 of the 2016 The Championships Wimbledon. Mandatory Credit: Susan Mullane-USA TODAY Sports

The furor surrounding Caitlin Clark has only increased to incomprehensible levels ever since she joined the WNBA a couple months ago. And while she has tried to distance herself from all the controversy while focusing on basketball, her focus has earned plaudits from another generational women’s sports superstar – Serena Williams.

If there’s anyone who knows how to balance their athletic career, it’s Williams, the most successful and decorated female tennis player of the modern era. Serena and Venus Williams had to confront celebrity at a young age, racial discrimination, and so much more throughout their careers. And yet, Serena emerged as a 23-time major winner and earned iconic status both on and off the court.

At the Tribeca Film Festival in New York attending the premiere of her In The Arena: Serena Williams eight part docuseries on ESPN+, Williams compared her time in the spotlight to what Clark is facing now.


“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.”

The sports media, and let’s face it – the world at large, has collectively lost their heads ever since Clark debuted in the WNBA. We’ve seen national controversy over foul calls, heated debates about whether Team USA should keep ratings in mind when trying to win a gold medal, and now Clark is being put in the middle of culture wars in spite of saying she just wants to stick to basketball.

Everyone is trying to use Clark to push their own agenda, whether in sports, politics, or culture. And Clark has chosen to drown out all the noise at 22 years old so that she can try to stay sane and become an elite WNBA player. Serena Williams is one of the very few people on planet earth who has been through what Clark is experiencing at the moment, and if she thinks Clark is doing something right, perhaps that is the best course of action right now.