Nike's 'The Toughest Athletes' Ad Is A Powerful Tribute To Moms

by Valerie Williams

Nike’s latest ad is a tribute to moms and all they’re capable of — grab the tissues

Have you cried yet today? I like to have at least one good eye flood per week and it’s only Monday and I’ve already checked that box after watching Nike’s ad called “The Toughest Athletes.” It pays beautiful tribute to pregnant women who happen to be incredible at their sport and BRB, I’m gonna watch it again but with a box of tissues next to me this time. Join me, won’t you?

“Motherhood looks different for everyone. But no matter what you do or how you do it, you are the toughest athlete,” read’s the video’s caption.

The ad is to showcase Nike (M), the company’s new maternity line, but enough about that — I’m far more interested in the world-class athletes the spot features including track stars Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, Perri Shakes-Drayton, Nia Ali and Bianca Williams. It also shows us Serena Williams and her precious daughter Olympia, and USWNT soccer player Alex Morgan. All mommas, of course.

“Can you be an athlete? You, pregnant? You, a mother? That depends,” the narrator says.

“What is an athlete? Someone who moves? Sounds like you,” the narrator continues. “Someone who gets it done, no matter what? You do that. Someone who listens to her body. Also you. Someone who defies gravity. You. Someone who deals with the pain, hits her limit, and pushes past it. Pushing, pushing, pushing. Someone who earns every single win. You, you, you. So, can you be an athlete? If you aren’t, no one is.”

According to a press release from Nike, the ad was filmed during the COVID-19 pandemic and “compiled from more than 22 hours of intimate footage shot by the mothers featured and their friends and families. Each respective shoot was directed via Zoom to keep each individuals health and safety a priority.”

So the ad is definitely a big gear shift for the brand when it comes to how it views pregnant women. In 2019, track star Allyson Felix came forward to tell her story of Nike cutting her pay (they were her sponsor) after she gave birth. After public outcry and a congressional inquiry, the brand changed course and announced a new maternity policy for pregnant athletes guaranteeing pay and bonuses for 18 months around pregnancy.

If her voice speaking out was the catalyst for change, then it only goes to reiterate what their own ad highlights — moms are strong and they never give up.