I expect this kind of trolling from bitter internet commenters, not a storied media publication. In an article the New York Times has struggled to explain let alone defend, sports writer Ben Rothenberg contends that Serena Williams’ body is unfeminine and a reason for her professional dominance. The piece, entitled Tennis’s Top Women Balance Body Image With Ambition, was published on July 10, the day before Serena won Wimbledon and cemented herself, in many people’s minds, as the greatest athlete of our era.
The article was posted to the New York Times’ Twitter account with the caption;
Serena Williams has a muscular frame. Her rivals choose not to emulate her physique
— The New York Times (@nytimes) July 10, 2015
In the opening of the insanely sexist piece Rothenberg writes about Serena once mentioning that she covers her arms in public to be less recognizable.
“My arms are really fit, but I wanted to cover them, because when I do people don’t recognize me as much,” she said.
The implication seems to be that she is hyper-aware and ashamed of her arms. Um, you could have fooled me because at the Wimbledon Champions Dinner two days after this piece was written, this is what Serena chose to wear…
Not to mention that when it comes to her toned and curvy figure the beautiful athlete is always on Instagram ‘straight flexin’…
The article goes on to shade Serena MAJORLY by suggesting other female athletes might perform better if they were willing to be as muscular as she is, but they’re not because it’s not ‘feminine’;
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.
Despite Williams’s success — a victory Saturday would give her 21 Grand Slam singles titles and her fourth in a row — body-image issues among female tennis players persist, compelling many players to avoid bulking up.
“It’s our decision to keep her as the smallest player in the top 10,” said Tomasz Wiktorowski, the coach of Agnieszka Radwanska, who is listed at 5 feet 8 and 123 pounds. “Because, first of all she’s a woman, and she wants to be a woman.”
Oh word? Now female tennis players are blaming Serena’s body for their mediocrity? Mkay…
The New York Times was slammed for publishing this terrible piece and three days later an editor issued a half-assed ‘apology’. In a bumbling essay, the editor struggled to explain why the piece was even necessary and why this creepy and voyeuristic dissection of female athletes’ bodies was even allowed.
I talked Monday morning to Mr. Rothenberg, who said he was “disappointed and surprised” by the negative reaction.
“I knew it was going to be a touchy subject,” he said, but he was taken aback nonetheless. In retrospect, he told me, he sees some of the ways that the article could have been approached differently.
“I wanted it to be a conversation starter,” he said. “But I should have challenged the norms rather than just stated them as a given.” He also said that a late decision to rewrite the top of the piece, putting more attention on Serena Williams, had the unfortunate effect of creating a “Serena versus everybody else” split.
The sports editor, Jason Stallman, told me that The Times intended to present “a nuanced look at this issue, which we appreciated is a sensitive one.” He said that of the four editors who handled the piece, three were women. And he praised Mr. Rothenberg’s work, especially for his access to the players and his chronicling of Serena Williams’s dominance of the sport…
Mr. Stallman thinks readers may be directing their anger at the wrong source. In the criticism he’s seen, “there is a suggestion that it’s our role to fight this battle. But this wasn’t a column or an editorial.” Let the reader decide, he said, if the views expressed are outrageous.
That is bs at its finest. The publication attempts to hide their own sexism behind the excuse of, “Well other people are sexist and we’re just reporting it!” No, no, no. Let’s be clear; The New York Times gave highly offensive ideals a national and international platform. And in that they betrayed their own sexism and bias towards a white beauty standard. I mean, this is the publication that referred to Viola Davis as “not classically beautiful.” Ugh.
Meanwhile Serena Williams is unbothered, as she should be. America is finally coming to recognize that her talent is legendary and she is collecting millions of dollars in prize money, all the while refusing to be shamed or ashamed and reveling in her black womanhood. This headline from Very Smart Brothas pretty much sums up her life…
The corresponding article is both hilarious and precisely accurate;
Because it’s almost as if Serena Williams was specifically and intentionally created with the intention of pissing off the most racist sports fans possible. Her entire existence is an elaborate troll for White tears.
Be from Compton? Check. Dominate a sport traditionally dominated by conventionally attractive and affluent White women? Check. Do this while being “so thick that everybody else in the room is so uncomfortable“? Check. Rock literally every hairstyle every Black American woman has ever rocked, and sometimes all at the exact same time? Check. Despite endless attacks on her looks and “masculinity”, continue to have some of the most eligible Black bachelors in the country (literally) fight over her? Check. Have an active dad who gives no fucks about what White people think? Check. Do absolutely nothing remotely criminal or even rude, making the tearjerkers scour the Earth for shit to criticize? Check.
Yep, pretty much.
Ladies what are your thoughts on all this?