Serena: A Symbol of Excellence & Oppression
Serena Williams: A Symbol of Excellence & Oppression
Serena Williams is on the verge of making tennis history with her 21st Grand Slam title at the 2015 French Open. Williams is getting closer to surpassing Steffi Graff’s record of 22 Grand Slam Titles. She has received 49 other singles titles, 700 other victories and 4 Olympic gold medals. One would expect the public to be talking about her grand accomplishments, but that is not the case. Despite being a truly talented, possibly one of the greatest athletes of all time, Williams is faced with rampant sexism and oppression.
Rather than highlighting Williams’s accomplishments, people have chosen to focus on superficial aspects such as her appearance.
On Twitter individuals have commented on her appearance as, “Serena Williams is a man with tits,” “Serena is way more manly than ANY man in the French Open. It’s absolutely disgusting. She is the original Caitlyn Jenner,” and "she looks like and sounds like a gorilla when she grunts while hitting the ball. In conclusion, she is gorilla."
A New York Times article referenced Williams as “large biceps and mold-breaking muscular frame, which packs the power and athleticism that have dominated women’s tennis for year. Her rivals could try to emulate her physique, but most of them choose not to.”
Even other celebrities have rudely addressed Williams. Russian tennis chief Shamil Tarpischev commented on the Williams sisters on the late-night show Evening Urgent, addressing them as the “Williams brothers.” He went into detail and said, “It’s frightening when you look at them. But really you just need to play against the ball.”
But thankfully his sexist remarks were not swept under the rug. His remarks earned him a $25,000 dollar fee from WTA Tour and a one-year suspension from the tour.
Though, the crude comments Williams currently faces after her 21st grand slam win is not a brand new experience for her. In 2012 after her Wimbledon win, Twitter users posted derogatory comments regarding her appearance.
Williams is an excellent role model for girls and young African-Americans. Here we have a woman, who doesn’t fit into the standard of beauty society focuses on. She is strong and in shape, showing girls that you don’t have to be skinny. But on top of this we have an African-American woman, turning heads to admire her accomplishing so many great things.
Alas, we have the media and society tearing down Williams, psychoanalyzing and nitpicking all her traits, when really we should all be celebrating her for her accomplishments, success and motivation she brings to our future generation.
And fortunately, Williams stands strong against the rude comments directed towards her.
"Throughout my whole career, integrity has been everything to me," Williams wrote in a February Time column addressing the racism she faced at Indian Wells. Though the "undercurrent of racism" was "painful, confusing and unfair" and made her feel "unwelcome, alone and afraid," she knows the solution is to ultimately rise above it all.
"I was raised by my mom to love and forgive freely," she wrote. "Together we have a chance to write a different ending."
Randhika Aturaliya has spent all her life in Maryland and is a sophomore at Dulaney High School. She is fond of writing as she writes for her school newspaper and writes poetry and fiction in her free time. Among other things, she enjoys competing in speech competitions and loves being the only marching bass clarinetist in her school's marching band.