To every girl walking onto the court or warming the bench, sitting in a locker room or imagining herself in a board room, Serena Williams just upped your game. Embarking on a brand new partnership with Secret Deodorant and pledging $1 million to advance gender equality in sports, tennis champion, entrepreneur and all-around idol Serena Williams is setting a strong example not only for her daughter but for every girl lacing up before practice.

“It’s very important to me that I use my platform to bring attention to the many issues faced by women in sports and to call for meaningful change,” Williams announced recently at the 2020 Makers Conference. “The Secret brand has been answering that very call for years by taking real action to support female athletes.”

Girls, huddle up. She means athletes like you.

Knowing that real change comes from demonstrable data, Williams and Secret have kicked off their partnership with a study to explore gender bias in sports and the ways it surfaces at different levels of play. While the results will certainly impact the world of professional sports, younger athletes will be thrilled to learn that the study will analyze bias in high school sports as well. As some research notes that many girls drop out of sports at twice the rate of boys by age fourteen, this study has a built-in audience waiting by their lockers.

But there’s more.

The commissioned study builds on meaningful steps already being taken by Secret. In 2019 alone, Secret donated $529,000 to the United States Women’s National Team Players’ Association to close the gender pay gap in soccer, purchased and donated over 9,000 tickets to the National Women’s Soccer League games in order to equalize game attendance and boost revenue, stood firmly behind Carli Lloyd’s NFL goals and committed to the next generation of female athletes with a video we cannot stop watching.

Secret gets it. And Serena Williams knows it.

“I am incredibly honored to join forces with Secret,” confirmed Williams, “and look forward to partnering closely to further the fight for gender equality for all athletes.”

“There are so many issues women have to sweat – from fewer opportunities, balancing a burgeoning career with family plans, to earning wages that are fair and sustainable,” added Sara Saunders, Associate Brand Director with Secret. “In partnership with Serena – one of the world’s foremost athletes and an icon of strength – we are eager to further explore into how these inequalities play out in sports and work together to effect tangible progress.” 

And this resolve goes all the way to the top. “At P&G, we believe an equal world is a better world for all of us. We are committed to using our brand voices to help spark conversations, change mindsets and drive real societal change,” echoed Carolyn Tastad, Group President, North America and Executive Sponsor, Gender Equality at P&G. “Secret has been a strong supporter of women for decades – igniting important conversations around equality – and I am incredibly proud of the work they are doing to advance gender equality in sports and beyond.”

“Sports changed my life, and I feel compelled to continue giving back to ensure a brighter future for women in sports.”

Serena Williams

This is the kind of teamwork that moves the needle and makes change.

When a competitor like Williams gets behind a message and commits to a mission, her seventy-three career singles titles and twenty-three doubles titles come with her. As do her four Olympic gold medals. Williams has earned over $92 million in career prize money, and she won her first major title at seventeen. She understands fierce competition, remembers what it feels like to be a new player and her actions indicate she’s paying it forward.

“Sports changed my life,” Williams concluded at the partnership announcement with Secret, “and I feel compelled to continue giving back to ensure a brighter future for women in sports.”

Girls, reread her words and hear the Secret team cheering you on.

Await the results of their gender study and know the data will bring real results.

And remember that demanding equality – in athletics and in life – is never overreaching or unsportsmanlike.

It’s simply called upping your game.


  • Illana Raia

    Founder & CEO


    Recently named one of the first 250 entrepreneurs on the Forbes Next 1000 List, Illana Raia is the founder and CEO of Être - a mentorship platform for girls. Believing that mentors matter as early as middle school, Illana brings girls directly into companies they select to meet female leaders face to face. The goal, as Être's French name suggests, is to help today's girls figure out who they want to be.    Named a Mogul Influencer in 2017, Illana appeared in the HuffPost "Talk To Me" video series, participated in the 2018 Balance Project Interviews and the 2019 #WomenWhoRock campaign, and has been featured on Cheddar TV and podcasts like The Other 50%, Her Money, Finding Brave and Women To Watch. Illana has authored 50+ articles for Thrive Global, HuffPost and Ms. Magazine, and her award-winning book Être: Girls, Who Do You Want To Be was released on Day of the Girl 2019. Her next book, The Epic Mentor Guide, is scheduled to arrive on International Women's Day 2022.   Prior to launching Être in 2016, Illana was a corporate attorney at Skadden, Arps in NYC and an occasional guest lecturer at Columbia University. She graduated from Smith College and the University of Chicago Law School, and remains unapologetically nerdy.