Serena Williams praised Nike for creating a “powerful statement” by making Colin Kaepernick the face of an advertising campaign.
The quarterback appears alongside the message: “Believe in something. Even if it means sacrificing everything”, as part of the 30th anniversary of Nike’s Just Do It campaign.
Kaepernick was the first NFL player to kneel at games during the national anthem as a protest against social and racial injustice.
Williams, who is sponsored by Nike, has been a supporter of Kaepernick and he was at Flushing Meadows on Friday to see her defeat sister Venus in the third round.
Following a quarter-final victory over Karolina Pliskova, Williams said: “He’s done a lot for the African-American community, and it’s cost him a lot. It’s sad. But he continues to do the best that he can to support.
“Having a huge company back him could be a controversial reason for this company, but they’re not afraid. I feel like that was a really powerful statement to a lot of other companies.”
Williams declined to answer whether she would take part in similar protests in tennis given the chance, saying: “I think everyone has a choice to do what they choose to do.
“Whether they protest it, which is a peaceful protest, or not, it’s the choice of being American. It doesn’t make them less American.
“And I think that’s also something that’s really interesting, is the fact that we all make up this world, because we have different views on different things, but that doesn’t mean we can’t be loving toward each other.”
John Isner, a supporter of Trump who has previously been very critical of Kaepernick, refused to answer a question about the matter following his defeat by Juan Martin del Potro.
“I don’t see how that has any relevance here, so I really don’t appreciate that question,” he said.
“But I think it’s a terrible message that they’re sending and the purpose of them doing it, maybe there’s a reason for them doing it,” Trump told the Daily Caller. “But I think as far as sending a message, I think it’s a terrible message and a message that shouldn’t be sent. There’s no reason for it.”
He added: “As much as I disagree with the Colin Kaepernick endorsement, in another way — I mean, I wouldn’t have done it.
“In another way, it is what this country is all about, that you have certain freedoms to do things that other people think you shouldn’t do, but I personally am on a different side of it.”