Serena Williams defends Nike after maternity pay controversy: 'They're doing better'

USATSI

Nike landed itself in some hot water recently when the company announced it was cutting the pay of its female athletes during and after pregnancy. 

Serena Williams, arguably Nike's most prominent face, stood behind the company after her first round French Open win on Monday, saying that Nike is improving its policies and backing its claim that it will no longer continue the practice.

"That's what it's about. It's about learning from mistakes and doing better," Williams said, per CBS News

Nike's pay-cut was based on performance, so the company is reportedly amending its policy to exempt pregnant athletes from performance cuts for 12 months. Williams' contract was unchanged after her pregnancy, however, and she of course made the finals at both Wimbledon and the US Open.

"I feel like as time goes on, as technology changes and as, you know, the world changes, people realize that we have to change our policies," she added Monday. "And I think that Nike wanted to do that, and they started doing that. And so I think they made a really bold statement by doing that with me, and I think they're going to -- I know, actually, that they're going to continue to make that statement."

While it's possible Nike was trying to make a statement with Williams, she is also one of the most marketable athletes they have ever had. Any type of pay-cut could have given her incentive to jump ship and leave the brand.

Williams is looking to get back on track at the French Open after losing in quarterfinals at the Australian Open. She's seeking to tie Margaret Court's Grand Slam record of 24. It's a tough field, but Williams has the firepower to move through the bracket.

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