Over the weekend Serena Williams won her 30th grand slam title and the world celebrated with her. Many have said that Williams’ athletic abilities surpasses such greats as Michael Jordan, but there are others in the world who won’t let her live and exalt in her name, because racism.
After her win, people tweeted that Williams looked like an ape, a man, and basically had no problem in saying that she was ugly.
But this isn’t anything new when it comes to the critiques and ridicule of the Williams sisters. They’ve had to deal with this their whole careers. Where lesser tennis players are complimented on their game and beauty. There are those out there, who feel the need to disparage Venus and Serena because of their looks.
In 2002, after Williams competed at the US Open wearing a black spandex catsuit, Sunday Telegraph columnist Otis Gibson, seemingly struggling to find appropriate language in his critique of her outfit, wrote, “On some women [the catsuit] might look good. Unfortunately, some women aren’t wearing it. On Serena, it only serves to accentuate a superstructure that is already bordering on the digitally enhanced and a rear end that I will attempt to sum up as discreetly as possible by simply referring to it as ‘formidable.'”
In 2003, the satirical website Sportspickle published a piece that leveraged the preoccupation with this particular part of her body, in a piece starring Williams’s butt as the winner of the Australian Open:
Tennis star Serena Williams cruised to a victory in the finals of Australian Open women’s singles on Saturday and then dispatched her buttocks on Sunday to secure the doubles title. Serena beat her sister … to win her fourth-straight major. On Sunday, her butt muscled its way to a 6-2, 6-1 title victory over the doubles pair of Virginia Ruano Pascual and Paola Suarez. The feat is the first-known occurrence of a body part winning a professional athletic contest.
It’s not all white observers who make these types of comments. Jason Whitlock, a black sports writer, slammed Williams in a 2009 Fox Sports column for having “chosen to smother” her beauty “in an unsightly layer of thick, muscled blubber.” His main gripe, unsurprisingly, was about what he called her “oversized back pack.” He explained, “I am not fundamentally opposed to junk in the trunk, although my preference is a stuffed onion over an oozing pumpkin.”
Well the world ever be able to accept Serena as one of the greatest athletes ever, without a hint of racism? Probably not.