Wimbledon isn't just the site of Venus Williams' greatest on-court accomplishments, but also one of her most significant off-court contributions to women's tennis.
Less than 20 years ago, the five-time champion was instrumental in fighting for WTA players to receive the same prize money as their male counterparts. It was a two-year fight that began with a speech to the Grand Slam Committee on the eve of winning the 2005 final and was followed by an impassioned letter in The Times newspaper the following year.
It culminated in the tournament's announcement of equal prize money in 2007. Appropriately, Williams was the first women's champion to receive it.
"When it happened, it was almost surreal," Williams said at the US Open Champions of Equality inaugural event this week, where she spoke alongside Billie Jean King, Telva McGruder of General Motors and journalist Christiane Amanpour. "I think there's a part of you that -- it's sad to say -- that gets so used to not having it that I just assumed we're going to be fighting for another 20 years."
Williams also looked back on how she had got the ball rolling in that 2005 meeting.
"So I was playing this tournament, Wimbledon," she said. "I was arriving to the finals. Every year they have this meeting with the Grand Slam Committee. It's very proper. You go into this room, it's a boardroom. It's a little bit boring, to be honest, but I didn't say that. It's not on record. It's off the record, everybody.
"But you go in, they serve tea, it's very English. You know how the English are more buttoned up than us loud Americans. There are a lot of formalities. We ask for equal prize money. Then a few weeks later or months, whatever the timeframe was, they would just say no. It was year after year after year since the Open Era that this was going on.
"At that point I went into this room and I asked everyone to close their eyes. I said, 'Now that your eyes are closed, you don't know if that person next to you is a man or a woman, but everyone's heart beats the same way. Would you want your daughter or your sister or your mother or your wife or a loved one that was a woman to be paid less?'
"Then I left. I bounced. I had to go. I didn't stay for the whole meeting."
Williams credited her mother, Oracene Price, for instilling in her the need to speak out against injustice.
"Lots of people think that was impactful," Williams said. "It was just the truth. A lot of the times you can't beat the truth. When you stand up for what's right -- that's what my mom was all about. I learned that from her. I think that's why I spoke out -- because my mom said, 'There's something wrong, you stand up for it.'
Williams also expanded on this theme in an essay for usopen.org, writing that the principle of standing up for what's right is something that "would always have guided my path."
Having also acknowledged that pay inequity had not been on her radar until she began playing Grand Slam tournaments, Williams also cautioned that the results of activism don't come easily or quickly.
"If you're in the business of change, you have to be prepared to play the long game," she wrote. "Progress is slow; often agonizingly so. It's seldom easy; in fact, it’s pretty near always tough. But the tough thing and the right thing are often the same thing. And equality is a great thing. Maybe the most important thing."