Thursday, September 03, 2015

We're just lucky to have the chance to watch her

This is Celebrate Serena Williams Week as far as I am concerned. Yes, she's obvious the greatest current women's tennis player and perhaps the best ever.

And she's gracious (usually) about the varieties of bilious racism that have been thrown at her (and her sister) throughout a long career. Tennis always seemed a sport for the heights of the hoity-toity; I remember when tournaments required all participants, women and men, to wear all white. How about that?

A black woman crashing that party has to fend off all sorts of crap. And since the scandalized spectators can't directly say a black woman has no business in their sport because she's the wrong color, they attack her body. Serena is guilty of having muscles!

So we get articles with titles like "Tennis’s Top Women Balance Body Image With Ambition." She is contrasted to women who are proper "girls."

“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.”

Radwanska, who struggled this year before a run to the Wimbledon semifinals, said that any gain in muscle could hurt her trademark speed and finesse, but she also acknowledged that how she looked mattered to her.

“Of course I care about that as well, because I’m a girl,” Radwanska said. “But I also have the genes where I don’t know what I have to do to get bigger, because it’s just not going anywhere.”

I hope the gorgeous Serena kicks a lot of little blond woman-butt this week at the U.S. Open.

Zeba Blay points out that the crap Serena gets is also thrown at most all black women:

Williams is simultaneously sexualized and caricaturized, othered and exoticized. Her body is a representation of her athletic skill. But rather than being celebrated, it's been scrutinized mercilessly, turned into a kind of spectacle for white amusement ... The intersection of sexism and racism is something  black women grapple with on a daily basis. 

This goes beyond Williams' body. Not only is her womanhood consistently denied, her character is deemed as dominant, aggressive and arrogant. Everything from her hairstyles to her celebratory dances have been regarded as "ghetto" or uncouth. No matter her success, her intelligence or her graciousness, her humanity is consistently denied. 

... Williams has beaten Maria Sharapova 17 times in a row, spanning over a decade. She still makes half of what Sharapova makes off the court. 

Why aren't we talking about that? 


tina said...

Thanks Jan

Hattie said...

She doesn't back off. Michelle Obama has retreated, but I imagine it is in part to protect the President and her daughters. Francis Bacon said families make men hostages to fortune, and that goes for women too.

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