On Saturday, Serena Williams won her sixth Wimbledon championship when she beat the number 20-ranked Garbine Muguruza of Spain. This is Williams’ fourth consecutive major title and 21st Grand Slam singles trophy, making the younger Williams sister arguably the best athlete of this generation, let alone the best player in women’s tennis.
But how many more wins does she have to secure until she’s pedestaled like Michael Jordan, Tiger Woods or Michael Phelps?
With greatness comes detractors and Williams definitely has her fair share waiting to nitpick at anything she does. Many are also curious why Williams doesn’t have more endorsement deals and why her competitor, Maria Sharapova, who’s ranked number two, earns more money.
Since they were adolescents, Williams and her sister Venus have been dominating professional tennis courts, a sport largely reserved for the white, rich country club crowd and certainly not two Black girls from Compton.
But the Williams sisters kicked the door wide open on professional tennis and haven’t looked back since—even in the shrewd face of discrimination, bigotry and misogyny.
Aside from her obvious athleticism and dominance on the court, another talking point surrounding Williams is her body. Her curvy, athletic build is on the vision boards of women across the world—many pay for it—but is also a constant source of Williams’ criticism.
In a recent New York Times article covering the top women in tennis and body image, sneak shade was thrown at Williams.
Williams told the Times, “I don’t touch a weight, because I’m already super fit and super cut, and if I even look at weights, I get bigger.”
She continues: “For years I’ve only done Thera-Bands and things like that, because that’s kind of how I felt. But then I learned that you really have to learn to accept who you are and love who you are.”
“I’m really happy with my body type,” Williams stated. “I’m really proud of it. Obviously it works out for me. I talk about it all the time, how it was uncomfortable for someone like me to be in my body.”
Tomasz Wiktorowski, the coach of Agnieska Radwanska, who is five feet eight and 123 pounds, said, “It is 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.”
Wiktorowski’s quote caused Twitter fire storm. Loads of people felt the Times indirectly instigated criticism around Williams’s physique while praising her contemporaries who haven’t been as dominant on the court.
The unwarranted attacks toward Williams continued Saturday after her latest victory at Wimbledon. It’s evident her wins are beyond natural talent or race, Williams has what her competitors are lacking: strength and resilience.
In a tweet that since went viral, Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling set a troll in place calling him an idiot after he said Williams is “built like a man.”
— J.K. Rowling (@jk_rowling) July 11, 2015
And right after the Times’ article ran, David Frum, a former speechwriter for president George W. Bush, sent a tweet suggesting Williams takes steroids.
Steroids? Oh no, no, no. “Body image issues.” http://t.co/40W01g14n7
— David Frum (@davidfrum) July 11, 2015
Once the tweets were discovered, the conservative senior editor for The Atlantic quickly removed them stating it was a “private Twitter conversation with a friend.” Sure. A private conversation on a public forum. Right. Thankfully they were captured by Raw Story.
Seemingly in the name of their own vanity, Maria Sharapova and Andrea Petkovic don’t train for muscle, and yet they keep losing.
At the age of 33, Williams is in the best shape she’s ever been in and she’s dominating all of sports, period.
She won’t stop being excellent. Haters on the opposite side of the net, in the stands and people who thumb-thug from home on their couches can stay mad, while Serena Williams spreads Black girl magic from match to match.
Photo Credit: Susan Mullane, USA TODAY Sports