The Media's Scrutiny of Serena Williams
Start writing a post

The Media's Scrutiny of Serena Williams

Why her appearance shouldn't matter, but her accomplishments should.

The Media's Scrutiny of Serena Williams
NDTV Sports

Serena Williams is one of the greatest athletes of our generation, and has even been called one of the greatest athletes of all time. She is the second black woman to win a Grand Slam title and the first black tennis player to win the Australian Open, and her recent win in Wimbledon made her the only person in history to win three of the four Grand Slams -- six times. It is clear that her athleticism, unique style, and persistence have made her an icon within the sports industry. However, when some people talk about her, they cannot withstand the urge to bring up her figure.

Williams' physical appearance is one of the most scrutinized within the world of tennis. The rude comments that both men and women make about her toned figure seem to be a means to discredit her as an athlete and put more focus on what she looks like. Serena is also one of just a few African American tennis players, and yet she is dominating the predominantly white sport. With that, it seems as if the scrutiny of her image stems from intimidation, sexism, and racism.

Recently, the New York Times published an article titled “Tennis’s Top Women Balance Body Image with Ambition," which included interviews with several female tennis players and their coaches and was supposed to discuss the body issues of women tennis players. However, the piece seemed more like an attack on Serena’s body type and ended up achieving the opposite intent of the article. In one section of the piece, Tomasz Wiktorowski, Agnieszka Radwanska's coach, said, “It’s our decision to keep her as the smallest player in the top 10.... Because, first of all she’s a woman, and she wants to be a woman.” This statement ties back into the sexist aspect of the tennis world and society. The sexist gender beliefs that many people possess affect their notions of what is beautiful and acceptable for a woman, and unfortunately, women tennis players have chosen to accept those notions. However, Williams is not one of those players.

While sexism has played a major role in the unnecessary discussion of Serena Williams' body, her race plays a significant part in it as well. As black people, many of us have heard the saying, “You have to be twice as good in order to get half of what they have.”

This is a notion that many of us have carried with us throughout our lives, and it seems like it has to stand in the tennis world as well. No matter what Williams seems to accomplish in her respective sport, many only seem to discuss how “shapely,” “muscular,” or “manly” her physique is. Analysts that are concerned with this issue have gone so far so to compare their fascination with Saartijie Baartman.

In a 2005 essay, Jaime Schultz stated, "reactions to Williams’s rear end are reminiscent of responses to Saartjie Baartman, a South African woman known as the ‘Hottentot Venus,’ a powerful symbol of racialized difference. Framed within a context of freakery, fascination with Baartman’s backside contributed to prevalent ideas of black female deviance and hypersexuality.” With all of the frequent comments about Serena’s shapely figure, one could definitely see the similarities within this story.

While it seems that many women tennis players along with others have turned their eyes away from the ridiculous surveillance of Serena’s appearance, some have chosen to speak out in her defense. Recently J.K. Rowling came to her defense when a man on Twitter said that Serena is “built like a man.” Her quick and witty response highlighted the absurdity of the constant criticism of Serena’s body.

Through all of the scrutiny and attempts to discredit her, WIlliams has handled all of it with class. She is the perfect example of why it is so important to have confidence within yourself and to ignore the negativity that others may throw at you. On behalf of all of the young women that admire Serena Williams, we appreciate her, support her, and continue to praise her for being fabulous.

Report this Content
This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.

Planning Another Christmas Party

Don't just plan another plain party but get creative to have everyone wanting to come back next year!

Getty Famous

You know it's Christmas when the radio stations change to all of your favorite holiday tunes, the air is still, and stores have the best sales. With all my favorite things from Christmas happening my least favorite probably has to be when I have to go to another same old boring Christmas party that I get invited to every year. Here are some Christmas party ideas so that you won't have another sad Christmas party.

Keep Reading... Show less

High School Soccer is Wildly Important

For Young Players Who Want to Succeed at The Next Level

High School Soccer is Wildly Important

Whose choice is it? The parent? The player? There are a number of reasons that a kid may sit out of high school soccer, and to be completely honest; It is a huge mistake. High school soccer is the final piece in the puzzle that takes a player from above average or elite, to college ready by the end of their senior year. Every year thousands of talented athletes don't play for their high schools. Why though?

Keep Reading... Show less

8 Things That Should Be On Everyone's Holiday To-Do List

December is around the corner, are you ready?

8 Things That Should Be On Everyone's Holiday To-Do List

As they tend to say, its the most wonderful time of the year! People have begun to compile their Christmas to-do lists in anticipation for the season of sugarplums and gingerbread.

The history of the Christmas to-do lists goes back hundreds of years, almost as old as the holiday itself, however, people tend to fall out of this habit as they get older. This is unfortunate, as the theme of Christmas tradition can add bundles of the spirit of joy to your families.

Keep Reading... Show less

Fall Weather Must-Haves

Put away the swim suits and your favorite high-waisted shorts!


The transitional months of fall can cause some fashion headaches as you try to figure out what clothing to keep in your closet. With limited amount of college living space and the ever-unpredictable Nebraska weather, sometimes it’s difficult to know what should be taking up that precious closet space as you transition into winter. As you pack away those tanks and shorts for the chilly months ahead, get your closet ready with a few Fall must-haves. 

Keep Reading... Show less
Content Inspiration

Top 3 Response Articles of This Week

Take a look at the articles driving big conversations on Odyssey.


At Odyssey, we're on a mission to encourage constructive discourse on the Internet. That's why we created the response button you can find at the bottom of every article.

Keep Reading... Show less

Subscribe to Our Newsletter

Facebook Comments