From Frugivore — Reading coverage of Serena Williams’ fifth Wimbledon singles win, as well as her doubles triumph with sister, Venus, I braced myself. Discussions about Williams too quickly devolve into worn attacks on black womanhood, including assertions about laziness (29 Grand Slam titles); a uniquely bad attitude (John McEnroe, anyone?); and appearance. Always that.
Williams’ size, her muscles, and her derriere seem never to escape mention. This world-class athlete is even branded “fat.” This, like criticism of black, female Olympians Jessica Ennis and Louise Hazel, should illustrate that much public judgement about black women’s bodies is not about our health and welfare, but exotification and the long-held belief that we are anti-women who lack the delicacy and femininity of other members of our gender.
We cannot go further without examining the sexism inherent in deriding female athletes for being big and strong, qualities that are praised in men, whether pros or weekend warriors. Sports are about athletic prowess not hotness. But while Roger Federer won praise in comments to a Huffington Post article about his Wimbledon triumph, responses to an article on Williams included:
Power wins on grass courts, and Williams has no excuse not to win, being built like an NFL linebacker.
Too much testosterone for a woman.
More of a woman????? Ya, on steroids. 120 mph serve?? Most men don’t hit that. It’s not just her size, it’s her attitude and classlessness that piss people off. Like her cute comment to the line judge last year, about how she was gonna jam the racket up her A**? So dainty.