[By Tara Anderson]

Recognized for her consistent display of determination, dominance and resolve, Serena Williams is certainly one of the greats. But even the best often have to defend themselves against the not-so-subtle sexist disclaimers that preface female athletes’ accomplishments, as if their gender were a downside.

In one such incident earlier this year, Serena was asked how she felt about going down in history books as “one of the greatest female athletes of all time.” Her simple but powerful response went on to form the premise for Nike’s groundbreaking campaign.

“I prefer the words, ‘one of the greatest athletes of all time.’”

In the months following, Nike capitalized on Serena’s insistence that gender is inconsequential to her achievements, successfully turning it into a powerful narrative.

As a part of their campaign, Nike created a 60 second video that highlights Serena Williams’ athletic milestones throughout her journey to the top. The climax of the video is a very visual correction of the reporter’s statement, when the word ‘female’ is dropped. In another, fellow athletes and actor Kevin Hart, speak of Serena’s dominance and wish her the best for the upcoming US Open, all with ‘Nike’ branding prominently appearing in every frame. The campaign also featured the ‘key message’ on billboards across major cities in North America.

As a long time sponsor of the tennis pro, Nike did well to get behind Serena’s statement to position them as the first global sports brand to take a stance against the gender inequality that sadly still exists in this day and age – a clear PR hit.

(Photo by mirsasha via Flickr)