Let's Talk About Serena

Let's Talk About Serena

A collection of commentary and "serious journalism" on Serena Williams that has absolutely nothing to do with her success in tennis.

Serena Williams has dominated women’s tennis for more than a decade and is considered by many to be the greatest athlete of our time. Though she has been called inconsistent, her skill and precision are unparalleled and some predict that she will win another seven or eight major titles to add to the twenty she already has before she retires. Unfortunately, it seems that people have more important things to talk about, like her race, physique, and all of the ways that she fails to fit into their idea of a traditionally attractive woman. As a result, Serena has been forced to respond to many inappropriate and dehumanizing comments from high profile individuals. While Serena and her supporters are well aware of the prejudice she faces, it can be hard to believe that the comments about her are that bad, so below is a small sample.

"With a reduction in glut, a little less butt and a smidgen more guts, Serena Williams would easily be as big as Michael Jackson, dwarf Tiger Woods and take a run at Rosa Parks." - Jason Whitlock
“Williams, who will be vying for the Wimbledon title against Garbiñe Muguruza on Saturday, has large biceps and a mold-breaking muscular frame, which packs the power and athleticism that have dominated women’s tennis for years. Her rivals could try to emulate her physique, but most of them choose not to.” - New York Times

Russian tennis official Shamil Tarpischev called Serena and Venus the “Williams brothers” and stated, "It's frightening when you look at them. But really you just need to play against the ball."

“I can’t even watch them play anymore. I find it disgusting. I find both of those, what do you want to call them—they’re just too muscular. They’re boys” - Sid Rosenberg, Imus in the Morning

Discussing this (totally awesome) tennis outfit:

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.” - Sydney Morning Herald

“[Serena Williams] is helping to transform the nature of women’s tennis into a game of muscle and power. She is turning the tennis circuit into a more diverse place. But her tight black tennis romper was the stylistic equivalent of trash talk. It looked trashy. And it did her a disservice.” - Robin Givhan, Washington Post

A spectator to Serena’s father: “I wish it was '75; we'd skin you alive."

“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.” - Sportspickle

"Generally, I'm all for chunky sports stars ... but tennis requires a mobility Serena cannot hope to achieve while lugging around breasts that are registered to vote in a different US state from the rest of her. - Matthew Norman, The Independent

@serenawilliams @WTA Serena the gorilla won again pfff, grunts like one, looks like, is one. #Wimbledon— Richie (@DickLongYo) July">https://twitter.com/DickLongYo/status/619918113824... 11, 2015

"Serena Williams look like a man with tits, its only when she wears weave she looks female tbh, what a HENCH BOLD GORILLA!
— Lighty Makhaye (@MeLighty) June">https://twitter.com/MeLighty/status/60779569122686... 8, 2015

@serenawilliams is way more manly than ANY man in the #FrenchOpen It's absolutely disgusting. She's the original #CaitlynJenner
— Eric Annable (@EricAnnable) June">https://twitter.com/EricAnnable/status/60719246036... 6, 2015

At this point, you are probably (hopefully) disgusted at how many of those comments were published in newspapers or said on nationally syndicated radio programs, and you may have noticed some transphobia in addition to the racism and sexism. You may be thinking, "sticks and stones, she's so successful she should just ignore it," and to a certain extent you are right. These comments are demoralizing and not worth Serena's acknowledgment. However, I would imagine that it is tiresome when your success is attributed only to your glutes, or when people ignore your skills because they are more interested in your outfit. What many don't realize is that this attitude about Serena does actually harm her. Serena wins more prize money than any other female tennis player, by far, but makes nowhere near as much in endorsements as some of her competitors. For example, Maria Sharapova is much higher paid because she is tall, slender, and blonde and fits better into the mold of the ideal feminine athlete. While we cannot individually change how much Serena is paid, we can change how we talk about her.

  • Serena Williams is black, and while that identity is an important part of her, it does not make her a "savage" or "barbaric" player. It is inexcusable to compare her to a gorilla or any other animal. She is a human, and a very talented one at that.
  • While Serena's blackness is important because she and her sister have paved the way for other black tennis players, it does them a disservice to focus solely on that. Serena and Venus changed the game of women's tennis. They brought power and skill that no one had ever seen before, and to say that "increasing diversity" (read: happening to be black and also good at tennis) is their biggest accomplishment ignores their tremendous ability as players.
  • Serena identifies as a woman. She happens to also have been blessed with a genetic predisposition for muscle growth. It is acceptable to speculate about how she would hold up when competing against a great male tennis player. It is not acceptable to say that she is not feminine enough, or that she is not female.
  • It is okay if you do not find Serena attractive. She might just not be your type and that's totally fine. I highly doubt that she will lament over your opinion while looking at all of her trophies. That being said, if you are personally uncomfortable with the fact that she has more muscle than you do, don't go tell the Internet. If you feel emasculated, either take a sociology class and thoughtfully examine your perceptions of gender, or hit the gym. Do not take your own sense of inadequacy out on someone who has never done anything to you.

Serena has achieved outstanding success in tennis and there is nothing to suggest that she will not continue to do so. It is about time that we shift the focus from how she looks and the identities she was born with to her skill as a player, charity work, great personality, and how many more titles she'll win before she retires.

Popular Right Now

5 'Ruff' Stages You And Your S.O. Go Through When You Get Your First Dog Together

From Scooping Poo to realizing you might love the dog more than you love him..

There's something different about the milestone "getting your first dog together." I'm not saying other milestones like buying a house or getting engaged isn't close to the very top of the list-because I'm sure to several it is.

But for me? Dogs are my weakness.

My boyfriend is my weakness.

So putting them both together is surreal, and I encourage anyone who is truly in love to get some type of animal (even if it isn't a dog) with your significant other. You learn what kind of responsibility they put into raising something they so desperately love.

You think you love this person all you're capable of loving them, then you see them giving all their love to something that is both of yours...together. It all becomes that much more special, and still to this day it is one of my greatest accomplishments.

I'm sure that will all change one day when I'm a mom or when I get married, but for right now I think I'll bask in the wonderfulness that is my dog and boyfriend.

Though it's a beautiful journey, it's a hectic one too. I believe this prepares you for what it will be like one day to have a family of your own, and even though it's exciting to get to go through some of the motions, it's tough, "ruff," and scary all at the same time.

1. You question whether or not you may actually love this dog more than your boyfriend

Boyfriend: "If me and Benjy were both drowning, AND YOU COULD ONLY SAVE ONE, who would you save?"

Me: "Well lucky for you Benjy is an excellent swimmer so..."

Boyfriend: "No...no that wasn't the question. We are both submerged underwater, WHO WOULD YOU SAVE?!"

Me: "What kind of freaking question is this? Why would you ever make me choose?"

2. The infamous "I took him out last time"

You took him out last time? Well, I cleaned up the shit that stuck to the bottom of my shoe two hours ago.


You took him out last time? Well, I picked up every piece of toilet paper from the hallway that he got out of the garbage, and every sock he took out of the hamper.




3. The "what's in your mouth?" game

I don't know why I feel like asking my boyfriend what our dog has in their mouth is actually going to get me anywhere because it never does.

Me: "Babe what does he have in his mouth?"

Boyfriend: "Benjy what do you have in your mouth?"

Me: "Do you really think asking Benjy is going to get us anywhere?"

Boyfriend: "Do you really think asking me is going to get anywhere?

Benjy: *Eats entire sock then shits it out later*

4. The first vet scare

The first time you have to take your baby to the vet (for something other than a check-up) is probably one of the scariest feelings in the world. It makes all the times you fought over who would take them outside or argued about what they were chewing (and why they were chewing it in the first place) irrelevant.

It's watching them shake as they go back to that room, and waiting not so patiently for what the vet has to say and if your baby will be okay.

To find out it was something minor that both you and your significant other worried about for no reason.

"Yes he did eat your bracelet, but give it a few days and it'll be right back out of him in no time."

At this point, neither of us care. We're just trying to hold back tears and get our baby back in our arms.

5. Saying Goodbye

One of the hardest and most difficult things you will have to do in your life is saying goodbye to a pet you love.

An even harder thing you'll have to do is say goodbye to a pet you love with someone you love. I think the difficult part is to imagine every stage of this dog's life you got to enjoy with your partner, and now it will continue with your partner, but potentially start with a new dog. It's weird to even have to come to terms with starting over, but telling each other that it's what your first fur-baby would have wanted helps a little.

Getting a dog with the love of your life will change it. It will make little things seem big, and smaller things look huge. The first time they go up and down stairs, to the first time they fall asleep on you with their belly facing up.

There are all these cute memories that you don't just watch alone—you watch with the person you love.

If we are this much in love, can you imagine what it'll be like when we have kids? God, I can't.

Cover Image Credit: Instagram

Related Content

Connect with a generation
of new voices.

We are students, thinkers, influencers, and communities sharing our ideas with the world. Join our platform to create and discover content that actually matters to you.

Learn more Start Creating

March Madness Is The Most Wonderful Time Of The Year

From Upsets to Buzzer Beaters

March Madness. My favorite month of the year.

For those unaware, March Madness is the month long NCAA Men's and Women's Basketball Tournament. By March 31st, one team will be cutting down those nets and celebrating in the biggest party of the year.

Ever since I was a little kid, I always loved making a bracket. Choosing teams with the best jerseys or the coolest mascots was my strategy as a kid, but now I focus more on what upsets might happen.

The BEST part about March Madness is seeing what underdog team can pull out a win against a team destined for victory. March Madness is known for its upsets, buzzer beaters, and shocking wins. A team's high ranking might not mean anything more than an easier schedule, but lower ranked teams have time and time again come out to shock the #1 and #2 seeds.

As a Freshmen at Villanova University, I'm ecstatic for March. The Men's team recently won the Big East Championship and received that coveted automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament. To make things even better, they are ranked #1 in the East Division--and projected to win the division. The Wildcats are hoping for 2018 to be there 3rd NCAA Division win, full of many more buzzer beaters.

With all that March has to offer, I'm excited to see the upsets and the buzzer beaters, and of course, how Villanova shapes out this year.

Cover Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons

Related Content

Facebook Comments