Semenya has recently won a legal battle with the athletic’s governing body, the IAAF, after it had banned the middle-distance runner unless she took hormone suppressant medicine to control her testosterone levels.
Semenya has naturally elevated testosterone levels as a result of a condition called hyperandrogenism, and had lost a landmark legal case against the IAAF, which she successfully appealed in the Swiss Supreme Court.
Semenya's Nike video promotes ‘Athlete in Progress’ – a women's apparel collection by Off-White designer Virgil Abloh that debuted last September in a Paris.
The video follows Semenya running through the streets of Johannesburg in her native South Africa, talking about inspiring progress on and off the track. The theme is about respect, love and acceptance.
Semenya closes with the powerful words: "I have learnt to appreciate people for who they are, but first it comes with me appreciating myself and loving myself."
The spot is poignant in that it promotes acceptance and self-love at a time when the IAAF is trying to force the athlete into taking drugs that are designed to suppress her natural state.
The South African accused the IAAF as of using her body "as a human guinea pig experiment" and has received support from the South African government and several global sports bodies, including International Working Group on Women and Sport, WomenSport International and the International Association of Physical Education for Girls and Women.
However, not everyone has stuck in her corner. British distance running legend Paula Radcliffe has been a vocal supporter of the IAAF's position, while noting it was unfair on Semenya.
A long read but one well worth it if you want to really understand the issue and it’s importance. Sums up all the reasons why I believe these regulations are the correct and necessary ones to protect female elite sport. https://t.co/nMT4hBMyTQ— Paula Radcliffe (@paulajradcliffe) May 5, 2019
In recent years, Nike has run several powerful campaigns that fight for justice, including Nike’s controversial decision to use former NFL star Colin Kaepernick to front its ‘Just Do It’ campaign and several inspirational spots starring tennis great Williams.
A more recent effort was Raheem Sterling’s social media campaign to call out racism in football.