The NY Times insulted Serena Williams on the eve of her 21st Grand Slam


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Serena Williams won the Wimbledon Women’s Final on Saturday. It was a great and fast game, but Garbine Muguruza didn’t go easy on Serena – Garbine seems like someone we will be seeing more of in the coming years, and Serena said as much when she accepted her award. I didn’t even really think Serena was playing at full-blast, but Serena at like 80% is still better than everyone else at 100%. She now has 21 Grand Slam titles.

With the Wimbledon win in her back pocket, Serena is thinking about the US Open. But the media is still focused on how to discuss Serena, whether she really is the G.O.A.T. (Greatest of All Time) and what she means to tennis in general and women in sports. While many publications wrote glowing “We are living in The Age of Serena” type stories about her win, the New York Times decided to publish an utterly insulting article about “body image” in women’s tennis – go here to read.

The piece is half-assed, to start, and it seemed designed to specifically insult Serena Williams for not being white and model-thin and for daring to love and accept her muscular physique. The NYT actually included these lines: “Her rivals could try to emulate her physique, but most of them choose not to.” They also included quotes from coaches of other (white, thin) players who say that they don’t want their girls to “bulk up” like Serena, because EW GROSS how unfeminine. The piece is reminiscent of last year’s insulting and tragic NYT piece about Shonda Rhimes (“angry black woman”) and Viola Davis (“less classically beautiful”). Dear NYT: maybe just stop writing “think pieces” about black women, their bodies and their anger?

As for Serena and how people really do love her, J.K. Rowling was tweeting about her Serena Love all Saturday, posting photos and cheering on her favorite. When someone tweeted JK about Serena, saying something about how Serena “looked like a man,” this was JK’s response:

And finally, a lighter story – you know how Drake was all over Wimbledon this year? He watched several of Serena’s matches and he even came to one of her press conferences. Rumors were swilling that Drake and Serena were on (except I’m pretty sure she’s still dating Patrick Mouratoglou). When Serena was asked about Drake, she TOTALLY friendzoned him. It was amazing. Poor Drake.

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Photos courtesy of WENN, Pacific Coast News.

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144 Responses to “The NY Times insulted Serena Williams on the eve of her 21st Grand Slam”

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  1. Damn says:

    It’s racist and misogynistic.

    • Dee says:

      Very misogynoiristic and transphobic actually. Mainstream media (and even fans) has always targeted serena bc she’s a black woman dominating a predominantly white sport. I really don’t know how her and venus have stayed this long after enduring so much racism, i would have been long gone

      • helen says:

        That’s not quite what I got out of it. It would be nice to hear her opinion about the coverage. Some female athletes look forward to promoting the fact that they are successful and powerful and feminine.

        It’s definitely a delicate topic. The discussion of the women who defer to pressure to stay thin or be “feminine” didn’t seem to support that view. It sounded like they were making a compromise for vanity.

      • MCraw says:

        Transphobic?!

        No. She is woman and all woman. Nothing about her should be confused as anything other than that.

        Black women have had the T word thrown at them for so long for racist reasons. It is not a transphobia issue, it is a black-women-specific racist insult.

        Please stick to calling out the NYT for another instance of their revealed racism without undermining an issue actual black women have dealt with for centuries for another unrelated issue.

        I hate when black women have an issue become mainstream and the discussion never sticks to the insult and why, someone and then everyone else comes in with their “my burden is similar to your burden” and the issue that brought black women together to talk ends up shutting them out and shutting them up. Enough already.

      • Brasileira says:

        They lasted this long because, despite the racism, misoginy and general stupidity, they are seriously the best at their game. Can you imagine how rich, respected and far more famous and beloved they would be if it weren’t for these senseless haters?! Anna Kournikova was NEVER a 10th. of what Serena is, yet…. well, we know how it comes out.

      • Jo 'Mama' Besser says:

        Thank-you, McGraw. It’s not the same burden, stop always making everything about you by shuttling the actual issue off to the side. Misogynoir, man. Transphobic? Where is that coming from? Oh wait, I know, another person *not meaning* to say that black women = animals and men. There’s social conditioning for you. I’m not interested in hearing the defenses for trying to make a specific issue universal then insulting the hell out of the people you think should *let* *help* you, ‘that’s not what I meant’, ‘It’s your fault that I’m not a good ally because you won’t take my feelings more seriously than your own for the billionth time’ and, ‘you’re the real racist’. Nuh-uh.

      • joan says:

        Exactly. Oprah is also big and rich and charismatic — but she’s not in a “white sport.”

        Tennis is very “white.”

        The last time I saw Serena guesting on TV she looked absolutely gorgeous in a tight leather dress. She was amazing.

    • denisemich says:

      I read the article. IMO it was not racist. It talked about how Serena is one of few muscular women in tennis that is accepted.
      At some matches the commentary is very derogatory about how well the women play vs their weight. I have seen and heard it. It has been directed at Italian and German women.

      The NYT article said nothing interesting if you actually watch tennis.

      • Snowflake says:

        I agree, I did not feel it was racist

      • MinnFinn says:

        I read the article too and it did not shame Serena for her muscular build. The piece compared and contrasted top players’ views about building muscle and how for some it conflicts with their own and society’s idea of femininity.

        If I missed the racism in the piece, someone who has read it, please set me straight.

      • GoodNamesAllTaken says:

        I agree. I thought it was contrasting Serena’s healthy and hard come by attitude of body acceptance with society’s and other female athlete’s concern with looking “feminine.” I didn’t think it was shading her at all, but praising her. Maybe I read it wrong, but that’s what I got out of it.

      • joan says:

        Well, some people don’t see racism in ANYthing.

        You live in a dream world.

      • GoodNamesAllTaken says:

        @joan
        I assure you I’m not one of those people. Instead of being sarcastic, why don’t you explain what you think is racist about the article? I’m very willing to listen and to admit when I’m wrong. MinnFinn specifically asked to be set straight if she missed something. You add nothing to a conversation when you just come back with anger.

      • Jo 'Mama' Besser says:

        I thought that the article inferred something sinister, but it definitely knew how to cover it tracks after the justified backlash it got over the Shonda and Viola pieces. Just the timing of it smacks of an insult, why was it so important to publish this article on this day, you know? The paper wouldn’t just let her have her victory, it had rrrrrrrrrrrrvrather, it ran a sob story about how it’s so hard being white and beautiful, effectively saying, ‘Isn’t Serena lucky that no one considers her beautiful? She doesn’t have to worry about being pretty as we do, but we if were brave enough to get the She-Hulk Prison Bodies like hers, if we could just stop caring about being pretty the way that Serena isn’t pretty, we would totally win the titles’. We’ve holding ourselves back’.

        On another day, I would probably be on board to a (small) extent on this article. Why small? Because mainstream feminism was, once again falling into its same old exclusivity trap. On another day, that’s all it would be but the day is the insult. We’re seeing yet another instance of mainstream feminism really botching it by perpetuating and dismissing racism by/and always putting the well-do-to white woman at the centre of everything with obliviousness and malice at the same time. The only way the piece could bring Serena into the conversation was to give her a backhanded ‘compliment’ praising her for being proud of her physical repulsiveness–I mean strong, winning body.

        @joan: I share your frustrations, completely, but in this case, I know enough of Goodnames to confirm that she’s on the level and sensitive to hearing our frustrations without ignorance on her part. I see the article differently from the way that she does as I’ve outlined above but I’ve found her be consistently sincere. I do share your frustrations, though, SO MUCH. I’m a black woman who is sick to death of this garbage. aaaaaaaaav

      • GoodNamesAllTaken says:

        Thank you so much, Jo ‘Mama’ for your kind words and for pointing out what I missed in the article. And you’re right, there is something off about the timing and the focus of the article, even though it seemed to be a compliment, if a back-handed one. You probably aren’t even reading this because it’s the next day, but I wanted to thank you for explaining to me. Sometimes people are willfully ignorant and sometimes not. I can understand how it gets frustrating and Joan might just assume we were saying oh shut up, it’s not racist. Thanks for not assuming that.

      • Sassy says:

        I saw the pictures of Serena in the red dress and beautiful white/pink dress and thought “doesn’t she look lovely and feminine”. So what is all this about? The NYT article is about NOTHING. Who cares if a female tennis player doesn’t want to bulk up for the game. This type of reporting belongs in Cosmo, not NYT.

    • Jules says:

      Did the NYT talk about Martina Navratilova in the same way when she was doing steroids? Nope. And I’d kill to have a body like Serena’s.

      • Tracy says:

        Exactly.

      • Tig says:

        Can’t speak to the NYT- but there was plenty of derogatory press re Martina’s build back in her prime. And this at a time when its was still “ladies tennis”. She was always contrasted very unfavorably with Chris Evert in sports press back then.

      • TeaAndSympathy says:

        I’m not really a tennis fan, but Serena looks bloody faboosh in that red dress! There were some lovely photos of her at the after-party, too. JK Rowling’s tweets – perfection!

      • GoOnGirl says:

        This is the body Kim Kardashian is still trying to achieve. Eat your heart out! I’d love to have her body too.

      • jugstorecowboy says:

        She looks AMAZING in that dress. I’m a little late to the bandwagon, but I adore Serena Williams, and have really enjoyed all the posts lately.

      • YeahYeahYeah says:

        The media did talk about Martina’s build vs. Chris’s build.

    • Liberty says:

      I haven’t read the article completely yet, but the NYT is on my last nerve. Like Vanity Fair, its excessive amount of insulated preppy 1950s white grey-whiskered bread is really showing lately, in my opinion.

      Anyway, yay for JK’s perfect tweet to that imbecile who wrote the negative comment.

    • LA Juice says:

      +1. Serena is a goddess, and she is the GOAT- no one, not even her sister can touch that.

    • Shaz says:

      The New York Times should slink away under a rock. What a disgusting thing for any newspaper, and especially for a prominent newspaper, to do.

    • fee says:

      Where is it racism? Are you people reading the same article? The only thing insulting about it is that it focuses on tennis women body image…Serena is barely mentioned and when it was it was in quotations of how she feels comfortable in her body and how she came to feel that way, having the author respond not all women have reached this acceptance level.
      There are references to a dozen women and how they feel, quotes upon quotes….
      people need to stop trying to find reasons of every article that is against Serena…..people love her…period.

  2. Astrid says:

    She’s awesome!

  3. Pinky says:

    JKR FTW! NYT GFY!

  4. Sixer says:

    She’s one of the greatest, most iconic woman tennis players of all time. She does not look like a man. And the NY Times should be grateful for her, at a time when American men’s tennis is really not doing well at all. And everyone should be grateful for her, at a time when women’s tennis overall (and I say this as a tennis fan) is remarkably uninspiring.

    So there!

    • Birdix says:

      I am grateful for her no matter what she looks like–I love her extraordinary talent and her drive. I have thought her chiseled arms and legs do look masculine in some photos but that’s on me to rethink/expand my interpretation of feminine.

    • Samtha says:

      Thumbs up. Even when Serena was heavier than she is now, she still beat every other woman out there. There are a lot of things one could criticize Serena for (as there is for everyone), but her body is not one of them.

      • TeaAndSympathy says:

        Critics, opponents and haters can say whatever they like about Serena, and there’s no need for her to address any of their comments – she lets her unbelievable talent, hard-earned physical and mental strength, resilience, power, mind-blowing focus and sheer gutsiness do the talking. Girls and women could do far worse than adopting Serena as a role model.

  5. Betti says:

    Well done Serena and i think she looks great – shame on the NYT, what is their problem!

    If they are going to shame tennis players they should shame sore loser Federer who had a face like thunder after losing to Djokovic. Federer is a great player but he’s always been a sore loser and is past his prime. He should have retired a few years ago when he was at the top of his game and unbeaten for the most part – he only carries on because of his ego as he wants to set records.

    • Pinky says:

      But Federer is younger than Serena! They say all the time she and her sister took off when they were younger, and the fact that they didn’t play most of the non-major matches throughout the year (which one needs to do in order to artificially up one’s ranking), actually preserved their stamina for the game! Had Venus not gotten sick, I am convinced she’d be just as dominant as Serena. As it were, all of their dad’s predictions came true. And their rebellious time made them even better players. Maybe THAT’S the strategy others need to emulate.

      And for the record, those other girls couldn’t get Serena’s physique if they tried. Besides, tennis is as much a battle of wits as it is strength and stamina and Serena’s got them beat in all categories. Sour grapes all around, whiners. Opa!

      • Josephine says:

        That struck me, too, the fact that her competitors are somehow making a choice not to bulk up. Give me a break — most of them would do what needed to be done to win, including bulking up if they could if that’s what it takes. How insulting to insinuate that women are so vain that they wouldn’t get muscular and would choose a certain look over winning. I was a top athlete in college, and lifted regularly, and anyone who is even vaguely involved in athletics knows that the extent of your muscular definition and development is limited by your genes, unless you either body-building specifically and/or take enhancements.

        Serena is gorgeous. I’ve always loved seeing athletic women of all body types – strong and fierce is fabulous!

      • maddy says:

        Fed and Serena are the same age (a month apart)

      • Korra says:

        @joesphine sharapova is quoted in the article as not wanting to lift weights and she doesn’t feel it necessary to her sport. Yet you have so many people throughout the article saying it absolutely is. I’m kind of surprised by this. That it’s such an issue.

      • Ben says:

        Part of the subtext to the other players not wanting to “bulk up” is the long-held suspicion that Serena uses performance enhancing drugs. A suspicion increased by when she hid in her house’s panic room when the drug testers came to perform an unannounced test.
        Tennis has a real problem with PED use – Nadal and Djokovic being two prime candidates. And their drug testing regimen is a joke.

      • Josephine says:

        @ korra – i don’t think it is necessary to life weights to be an elite in tennis. i think Serena she gets ripped very easily, lifting or not. sharapova has a right to determine her own training regimen. what i despise is the notion that all of these female tennis players are somehow objecting to lifting because they don’t care for the look it creates. i just don’t see that, and even if there are a couple who are afraid of muscle definition, it’s a distinct minority.

        No one would question a man’s dedication to his sport b/c he’s afraid of what he will like.

      • korra says:

        @ joesphine I’m not questioning her dedication. I’m wondering whether the pressures these women have to face does in fact affect how they choose to train. I’m baffled how resistance training greater than the 5 lbs she lifts would harm her game.

        The most offensive part of the article is a story about a few men who try to find the most attractive players, but one of them calls female athletes too masculine. I feel like that’s the crux of the issue, which is pretty similar to what you’re saying. Women have to walk this ridiculous line where their attractiveness factor can deem them worthy or not.

      • another nina says:

        @ Ben — Exactly! I remember how Djokovic was extremely physically weak when he was a teenager. He kept fainting and was close to loss of consciousness and had multiple doctor calls during pretty much every set at major international youth tournaments. And people were understanding since the kid came from the war-ridden country, etc. And then, out of the blue, he has become one of the most resilient players…How did this happen? he credits his improved health condition with his new gluten-free regimen. How come it does not make wonders for everyone else?…

    • Hannah says:

      I totally agree with your sentiment about male vs female players. But federer? Out of all the tennis players you choose him to rag on? He’s always very well behaved.
      I am glad he didn’t retire on his day he still produces more sublime tennis than anyone else including Djokovic, who as good as he is can hardly said to have the most entertaining game. Serena and federer are my absolute faverorites to watch.

      • Betti says:

        Federer only cleaned up his act when he started to get a profile – in the early days he had a rep like McEnroe for throwing tantrums when he lost points/matches. As I said he’s always been a sore loser – he just learned to hide it and sometimes he fails.

      • Anne tommy says:

        Roger federer has won two grand slams since 2009 – he’s hardly dominant. Great player, but smug and yes a sore loser. Serena – not sure the opposition is all that, but great champion, absolutely nothing like a man in figure or (pretty) features, but somehow not someone I can warm to. Both admirable, neither likeable IMHO. But they are not there to be liked in the end, they are there to win and they have done lots of that.

    • Tina says:

      Shame Federer? He just made it to the final of Wimbledon, destroying world no. 3 Murray in the semifinal on the way. Why should he retire? He is no longer the favourite to win against Djokovic, but he can beat everyone else on the tour (and does). Now Nadal on the other hand, he’s a little sad to watch these days.

    • Luca76 says:

      A few things on Federer first off he’s # 2 in the world and even if he hasn’t won a Grand Slam in a few years and isn’t playing at the insane superman level he was at his peak there is no reason for him to retire. He’s playing at a better level than most players including Nadal. He’s still winning titles and I wouldn’t be surprised if he got another Grand Slam because he’s still making it to the finals.

      Second when we talk about sore losers did you see Djokovic scream and curse when he lost the second set or when he berated a ball girl to the point that he brought her to tears last week? Federer may have been exhausted and sad but sulking doesn’t come close to the routinely jerky behavior of Djokovic.

      I know people who’ve worked at the U.S. open and have dealt with tennis players and they’ve said hands down Federer was the classiest, most polite, and down to earth players in the game.

      • sills says:

        A-freaking-men, Djoko’s antics over the years have been eye-rolling to say the least. Federer always gets high marks for politeness to the “little people”. And so what if he used to be ragey and now isn’t? Isn’t it commendable that he’s grown up and learned how to act graciously?

      • Anne tommy says:

        I agree that novak’s overly macho act should be canned, the “silverback gorilla” alpha male chest thumping is way OTT.

    • Samtha says:

      Federer has remained in the top, even though he’s no longer dominant like he once was. He was just in the final of Wimbledon, for pete’s sake–why on EARTH should he retire? He’s still playing better than 99% of the field.

  6. Goats on the Roof says:

    What? She looks fabulous and kicks ass. Looks like NYT are trying to rile people up for publicity again. Also, yay JK Rowling!

  7. Eleonor says:

    Lately NY times seems high on something…misoginy.
    They let Sofia Vergara’s ex write that awful piece, before they attacked Shonda, now this.

    • The Eternal Side-Eye says:

      Correct, they must be trying to become even more obsolete faster than other publications.

  8. capepopsie says:

    Serena deserves all of our respect!
    Of course she has muscles. How do they
    think she got 21 (21!) grand slam titles?
    You don´t come that far without hard work!
    NYT should be ashamed of themselves.
    Go Serena!
    And go J.K. Rowling

  9. LAK says:

    As stupid as these ‘black women’ articles are, i’m glad they are being written because it exposes the backward thinking of these publications AND hopefully forces their readers to confront their prejudices when the rest of us are outraged.

    However, the article talks about professional athletes having such poor body image based on how their attractiveness that i’m genuinely flummoxed that they are indeed professional athletes.

    It’s so stupid to value sexual attractiveness over the requirement needed to be a winner for your chosen profession.

    That’s not to say that Serena isn’t sexually attractive, she just has her priorities right, and she’ll always be a winner because she’s not worried about how sexually attractive she is to others when there are matches to win.

    I couldn’t stop thinking about those stupid women who say they can’t be feminists because men won’t find them attractive.

    • frisbeejada says:

      Yes LAK that’s a really good point. I would much rather these opinions were out in the open where they can be challenged.

    • Pinky says:

      On some levels, as tone deaf as the article might be, there probably really is a drive in the women’s tennis community to “look the part.” I mean, Sharapova does, AND SHE MAKES MORE THAN SERENA in endorsements. Anna Kournikova couldn’t win a major to save her life, and she was a top earner too, for a while. Therefore, why try to be the best tennis player and win matches if you can be mediocre and a “Sex-sells symbol” to advertisers? Sounds to me as though there’s a dearth of feminist females in tennis. And THAT’s what’s got to change. It’s more an indictment of our society’s penchant for rewarding misogyny, warped fetishism, and white-centric ideas of beauty than it is a rejection of Serena. These women need to think about Misty Copeland and what she was able to achieve with her “muscular/strong” physique, and start accepting themselves for what their bodies are, what their bodies can do, and what their bodies can become. They need some self love and self esteem. That’s what Serena’s got that they don’t. And that’s what makes her the ultimate champion. G.O,A,T!

      • jen2 says:

        Agree 120%. You don’t have to be successful in your chosen field of sport, just be pretty with long flowing, usually blonde hair. You play, then make tons of $$ in endorsements because of looks, not talent. Serena is successful in her chosen field but does not fit the marketers profile of tall, thin/slender, delicate looking and blonde. She is also dark skinned, which also does not sell to marketers. The NYT and other publications can be “subtle” in their racism, so you have to look for it, which is worse and more damaging than the loud mouthed racists who don’t cover it up.

        The Kardashians with their artificial curves are frequently lauded and make millions while Serena with her athletic and natural curves gets passed over and is called masculine. Lupita who is beautiful and talented is having issues finding work, but Johnny Depp’s wife, whose talent is questionable, is constantly working. I hope Misty Copeland with her beauty and fabulous muscles and does she ever have them, shows folks in the “only delicate petite women succeed” world of ballet that those like her can also make it. There is a long way to go for women, especially women of color who are strong and in charge to make it in the advertising side of things where “femininity” is slender/skinny and usually white or fair, not dark skinned with long flowing locks.

      • LAK says:

        Yes, yes and thrice YES!!

      • Wilma says:

        Yeah, I noticed in the commentary during the match the Dutch commenter kept referring to the gracefullness of Muguruza and the pre-game talk had everyone (all men) hoping that Muguruza would win because she was the complete package. I really don’t get that, it’s incredibly exciting that Serena Williams is still on top of her game. She has actually been there for the rise and fall of Nadal and Federer. The longevity of her career is astounding. How can people who love tennis not appreciate that?
        On a personal level I don’t really like Serena Williams, her comments on Steubenville really put me off, but as an athlete she’s among the greatest ever.

      • The Eternal Side-Eye says:

        Exactly.

        Mediocrity is being rewarded because it comes in a pretty package. If one of those women could play and win like Serena they’d practically erect a statue to then and worship their new idol. Apparently working hard and winning is ‘gauche’ compared to being weak and beautiful.

      • The Other Katherine says:

        Wilma, the BBC coverage of Serena was much more positive and focused quite a bit on her longevity, her athleticism, and her accomplishments (e.g., completing her second “Serena Slam” of holding all the major titles simultaneously by winning Wimbledon this year). I only watched the final, so I can’t to speak what the BBC commentators may have said about Serena in her earlier matches of the tournament, but the commentary on her in the final was refreshingly unracist (and believe me, I was listening carefully, because a lot of supposedly professional commentators have said vile things about Serena in the past).

  10. Aren says:

    I’m constantly saying that women shouldn’t be forced to aspire to be called pretty. So if Serena was built like hulk, uglier than Donald Trump and as manly as WWF wrestler, she would still have all the reasons to feel proud of her outstanding career.
    Having said that, she looks gorgeous in those pics JK Rowling posted, and way prettier than many singers and actresses that are currently considered good looking.

    • Snazzy says:

      I love the way she portrays strength and confidence vs simply cute and pretty.
      Her strength and perseverance will hopefully have an impact of women of all ages about body image, focus and breaking through barriers / stereotypes

    • Lara K says:

      Totally agree.
      Problem is, NYT is not the only one who thinks this way.

      The very fact that Sharapova makes so much more shows that most people still prefer their women stars pretty, thin and blonde. And for many of them, it truly becomes a question of the type of success they want – financial or sportive?

      Ideally the two should go hand in hand. Serena should be paid the most in endorsements, but she is not. So if you are a female athlete, do you try to get more athletic to win, or do you chase the money?

      All I’m saying is that the ingrained attitudes in society of female beauty are putting a lot of pressure on female players, and I can’t really blame them for having image issues.

      • another nina says:

        To simplify, I would definitely pay attention to which tennis racket uses Serena, while at the same time, I prefer dresses Maria chooses on or outside of tennis court. In other words, their marketable power belong to different categories, and Maria’s category is significantly larger. Hence, she makes more money.
        And it does seem fair from a business perspective…

      • teacakes (formerly oneshot) says:

        a “business perspective” based on beauty ideals which are straight-up exclusionary and racist (because they assume dresses should only be modelled by slim, traditionally ‘feminine’ looking figures, and the body type of the actual greatest female athlete of our age is not to be aspired to).

        Seems fair, yes?

      • another nina says:

        Racism is a horrible concept, and I hate that it’s getting devalued by using so frequently and unreasonably. People do have a choice of what they want to wear. Seems fair, no? And I happen to prefer fashion choices, say, of Halle Berry to fashion choices of Serena Williams. I’m very interested in learning about Serena’s methods of training because she is a great athelete but I don’t like her shoes (which she wears to accompany her red dress in that picture.) Furthermore, I don’t like her red dress. How’s this blasphemy? How’s this undermining the fact that she has the best tennis serve I’ve seen?

    • Nikki says:

      Thank you Aren. I am also always saying pretty is nice, but it is such a very small part of a human being, yet all the media focuses on!

  11. Hannah says:

    I love jk Rowling for this tweet!!!

    Why is New York Times so reactionary at times? It’s a great newspaper in general i don’t really understand it? You’d never find a piece like that in an English broadsheet.

    • PennyLane says:

      The NY Times used to be a great newspaper – unfortunately now they are just running on the fumes of their reputation. The Times hasn’t been a great newspaper for the last 20 years…

  12. Jade says:

    She’s American…why is an American newspaper writing about her like this….other papers usually laud the athletic achievements of their own athletes on the world stage.

  13. Tig says:

    Folks have short memories, or maybe none at all-Martina N got the same type of press re her build, as did Mauresmo. Admittedly, any comments re Serena’s build also come weighted with racist undertones. However, both Martina and Mauresmo had to contend with whisper and louder comments re their sexual orientation. That’s not easy either.

    And now Mauresmo will start taking heat-again- for Murray’s failings. It is tiring to see.

    • Hannah says:

      Murray had a great defence of her. I was really impressed by him he’s really clued up.

      • Tina says:

        Yeah I’ve really been impressed with Murray lately. When a professional athlete talks about the strong women influences in his life and how he’s a feminist, well, that’s awesome.

      • Sixer says:

        Andy Murray on Mauresmo and feminism (from his blog):

        “The staggering thing was that she was slated every time I lost, which is something my former coaches never, ever experienced. It wasn’t right. I got off to a bad start last season and things have only got better since Amélie arrived. I was ranked 11th in September 2014, I’m now ranked third – it speaks for itself. They say I was plucky choosing Amélie but, truth be told, if anyone was plucky it was Amélie – she’s the one who’s taken the heat. Her competence was always under fire. I felt embarrassed.

        Have I become a feminist? Well, if being a feminist is about fighting so that a woman is treated like a man then yes, I suppose I have.”

      • Tig says:

        The fact that Murray has had to defend her- and HIS choice to hire her- repeatedly is telling. I agree- good for him for both his support and being vocal about it. And I loved watching her as a player.

    • Adrien says:

      I remember Martina Hingis and another tennis player calling Amelia “half-man”. There was a small commotion about it like almost everyone seemed to not take that seriously. Of course, different times.

      • Jo 'Mama' Besser says:

        Hingis is a hateful shame and I rue the day she slithered onto the world stage.

    • manta says:

      Don’t forget Arantxa Sanchez: short, muscular, great player who actually won titles but journalists fawned over the leggy Sabatini.
      And if my memory serves me well, awful things were written and said about the looks of Lindsay Davenport as well.

      • Tig says:

        Ah Hingis and Sanchez- Hingis for the “no filter” comments and Sanchez for her grit and court coverage. Going down memory lane really brings home how blah women’s tennis is now.

  14. Norman Bates' Mother says:

    It must be awful to have such a success and amazing moment in life be overshadowed by all the negativity. I don’t remember such comments about any male tennis players and it’s true – some of them are not as fit and athletic as Serena (which doesn’t mean she is built like a man at all, not in the slightest), but how this is a disadvantage on her part and not theirs? I hope and she strikes me as being just that – that she doesn’t give a damn about their opinions and knows how awesome she is.

    It’s sadly the general problem in sports. There is probably no woman in tennis, or any sport in general who has it easy. Just yesterday I read a piece about how Agnieszka Radwanska (other pro-tennis player,) is too thin and not athletic enough and that (according to male journalist) she was not able to keep her 2nd position in the world because she’d rather stay “thin and pretty” than have a courage to bulk up like Serena. Which is a bs. Maria Sharapova is thin and athletic, but she is criticized for her height (like that’s something she can change). If there’s a female athlete who ticks all the men-imagined boxes, they would still find something to complain about just because.

    • Pinky says:

      “If there’s a female athlete who ticks all the men-imagined boxes, they would still find something to complain about just because.” God. that’s so true!

    • Ninks says:

      The Daily Mail wrote an article recently where they described Sharapova as having broad manly shoulders and thick thighs. So even ‘tall, thin and blonde’ athletes aren’t immune from criticism for having athletic bodies. They don’t want female athletes to look like athletes, they want them to look like Hollywood actresses.

      Delighted for Serena on her win and I hope she achieves the calendar Grand Slam. Maybe then the tennis world will acknowledge that she’s one of the greatest tennis players of all times.

    • another nina says:

      oh come on, this is sports and physical characteristics do pay a MAJOR role in the game. And, of course, everybody discuss male players as well.. For example, rmember a recent quater-finals betweeb Djokovic and Marin Celic? Celic is 198 cm (probably 6’5″), and he is 10 cm taller than Djokovic, who is around 188 cm…And Djokovic got a major advantage in that game, partially because he keept playing right in Celic’s feet, and commentators kept repeating how it is very difficult for such a tall athlete like Celic to win such points and how it’s his huge problem…And yes, Serena looks much stronger than, say, Agnezhka, and it’s obvious that her game is much more powerful.

  15. AlmondJoy says:

    Jk Rowling is pretty awesome for that comment.. love it!

    • The Eternal Side-Eye says:

      That comment was amazing! I’ve seen some of her past comments rebuffing trolls so when I heard she laid a verbal smack down on someone for insulting Serena I was enjoying imagining what she could have said.

      The fact that I opened the link to see Serena all decked out in a gorgeous red dress with her body on 10 was so enjoyable. Go JK, if that’s a ‘man’s’ body then I need to start working on it.

    • Dara says:

      Rowling’s capacity for quickly and succinctly telling a troll where to stick it is one of my favorite things about her.

  16. Nikki says:

    I read the article yesterday and thought, “one of the greatest women’s tennis players of all time – if not THE greatest – and the best angle the NYT can come up with is a piece about how her body doesn’t conform to rigid outdated standards? Ugh. I’m asking ALL Celebitchy readers who agree to take ONE minute and email, call, or write to the NYT and tell them what you think. Why wasn’t there a piece comparing an actress’s legs with over bulky US women’s soccer players’?! (Sarcasm folks) Good grief; I’m disgusted and we have to be the VOCAL change we want to see!

    • The Eternal Side-Eye says:

      Agreed, all these companies care about (outside their own ignorance) is money and subscribers.

  17. Anait says:

    English is not my mother language, maybe that’s the reason why I have a different understanding of the article (I probably miss some shades of the language), but for me Serena is the only one who comes out good from it. She owns her own body, she accepts it for what it is (she is genetically big and muscular, she would bulge even lifting a toothpick, but that body is what allows her to became the athlete she is, because a woman who is a professional tennis player needs to have a body strong enough to be competitive and she has it), and she looks feminine and at ease.
    On the contrary, the other athletes mentioned and their (most male) coaches seem to have serious problems with body image, they want a “competitive” body on the tennis court and at the same time they aim to the stereotypical body image of a frail delicate looking woman…

    • Marny says:

      English is my first language and I absolutely agree. I think a lot of people are commenting on the blogger’s comments, which I think are totally off-base, and they aren’t reading the actual article. Serena comes off as confident and committed to being the best!

  18. noway says:

    What a stupid article, and where do they find the tennis coaches who would say they don’t want their women players to bulk up like a Serena. I guess they want to lose then. Serena is a world class athlete. She is tall and has built her body up to win. Most tennis players would have a problem to reach her level of fitness. Her body type should be the ideal. It really bugs me some would rather have skinny lollipop heads with small curves as the goal, and make some young celebrity starlets feel they have to lose unnatural amounts of weight instead of fitness as an ideal.

  19. Debbie says:

    Hasn’t she accomplished something that in all honesty no one else has done in tennis? Male or female? I am not a tennis fan I find it boring but I think it is incredibly safe to say she is the greatest tennis player ever, and I also think you can say she is one is the greatest athletes of all time. What she looks like has no baring on that. She earned that title with her hard work and accomplishments.

    • Luca76 says:

      I’d say that an argument can still be made for Steffi Graff as GOAT, especially since in one year she won all four Grand Slams and the Olympic gold medal but probably at the end of the summer that argument will be null when Serena wins the U.S. Open.

  20. Hindulovegod says:

    That article was rage-inducing. I saw the blatant misogyny, while friends thoughtfully pointed out the racism. The writer, NOT SERENA, attaches shame to her muscular arms and powerful physique. She’s an athlete! It’s a tool for her work. Strong is beautiful and this narrow view, put forth by men, of what’s acceptable for our bodies has no place in any media, let alone the Times.

  21. Luca76 says:

    Tennis is such an old money sport overrun with elitist, racist, and sexist pigs. The way they’ve treated their greatest women’s champion of the past decade and perhaps ever is such a smear on their sport and shame on the Times for consigning the misogyny instead of calling it out.

  22. Lily says:

    I find that women in any sports- and not just at pro levels- are called masculine if they have defined or muscular arms. For a lot of women very defined and muscular arms isn’t really attainable, so I don’t think we see it that much. Yet, that doesn’t mean we need to challenge someone’s gender role over it.

    I think what is interesting and impressive about Serena is that she is not only super muscular, but she has the stamina to keep moving around on the court. Some coaches like lighter players for tennis, because they feel like their energy to keep moving around will last longer, and you only need so much muscle to hit the ball.

    Serena is just an amazing athlete, and I’m pretty confident she could have professional success at a lot of sports.

  23. platypus says:

    The strange thing is, these women aren’t even that muscular… Where I live, I see a lot of women (most super feminine girly-girls) working their ass off at the gym to look similar to Serena and the tennis players who complain that they are too muscular. Even straight out body building for women isn’t really this fringe hobby where women are seen as manly freaks anymore, it’s becoming more and more popular and accepted. How bizarre that it’s not accepted to look athletic among actual athletes.

    • Crumpet says:

      There is a trade-off though, depending on the sport. Body building as a sport itself, doesn’t have to worry about that – all they have to do is look muscular and balanced. For other athletes, it about performance. For some that means more muscle, for others it means less bulk. Obviously for Serena, her body is perfect for HER for HER sport. Women should aspire to excel at their chosen sport and not over think what their bodies LOOK like, but rather, what their bodies can DO.

      • platypus says:

        From the quotes, like the coach saying “first of all she’s a woman, and she wants to be a woman” when asked about why a player wants to stay slim or something like that… It sounds like they are at least as focused on traditional feminine looks as they are performance, which I found odd since it’s not even particularly shocking for non-athletes to be muscular these days. I’m not saying tennis players should look like body builders or anything. Maybe the coach was just being an ass when he could have given a legitimate reason though.

  24. lw says:

    The NYT has a credibility issue across the board. Take note of how they dropped Ted Cruz’s book from the best seller list because of his conservatism.
    As for Serena, she is simply the best, ever. But she & her family have never “fit in” within tennis circles. This, of course, is not only because she is black & strong– she is BLACK & STRONG.
    She also did not come from money. She makes controversial statements upon occasion. And she isn’t a gentile tennis ambassador/humanitarian like the great Arthur Ashe. Blah, blah, blah…
    The media has never known what to do with Serena & she won’t get the complete respect due her until she retires.

    • another nina says:

      “She also did not come from money. ” And who did come from money in the Top 20? Sharapova, whose father worked as a construction worker in Florida? And they had nothing to eat for weekend, when he picked her up from Nic Balliterry’s academy? (and on top of that she was severily bullied in the said academy.)
      Serb Jokovic? He trained during war times, had suffered from hunger and was so weak as a teenager that could never finish a game at international tournament without calling for a doctor. May be Marin Celic came from money? His family lost everything after the war/revolution and never recovered…He is the only bread winner in his clan. Anyway, my point is that the vast majority of elite athletes did not come from money.

  25. Size Does Matter says:

    Strong is the new sexy. Serena has the body she needs to be kick ass in her profession. Welcome to 2015, NYT.

  26. fee says:

    1st the piece is worthless, it could point towards body image in women in sports but they missed the mark. As for the title of YOUR article, very misleading, I ‘m reading waiting for the Serena insults to begin, there was not a one. The article discussed and quoted how women in tennis see themselves, Serena was mentioned as part of the article, while another 10 women were discussed.
    Throw accusatory remarks to the article not to Serena because you become biased, ignoring the other women and focusing on Serena, and not one word was spoken against her.
    The piece was demeaning for women over all, not to Serena.

  27. Crumpet says:

    How dare a woman be strong? How dare she be able to pop a bicep while holding her trophy high? We must beat her back down into submission. I’m not commenting on the article, because I didn’t read it, but rather on the response to one of JK Rowling’s tweets. I love her response, btw.

  28. Adrien says:

    Gosh, I hate to be diegtristan8. Serena fans and the whole Potterverse are mocking this troll right now.

  29. db says:

    My my my. What a coinkydink. It’s telling that at a moment when women’s sports is coming its own, here comes the Gender Norm Cops to reinforce that these women — BEWARE Y’ALL! Don’t let this happen to you!– aren’t typically feminine and (allegedly) have issues about it.

  30. Tdub30 says:

    The truth is that Serena has been desired by many men for a very long time so NYT CAN JUST GO KICK ROCKS. And btw, SERENA ROCKS!!!

  31. Kitten says:

    Once again, a man all but ignoring a woman’s astounding accomplishments and focusing on her appearance instead. So f*cking sick of this sh*t.

    We shouldn’t be talking about anything but this woman’s immense talent, but since some are insisting, her body is beautiful. She looks powerful and strong, like the ATHLETE that she is.

  32. kri says:

    Serena is one of the greatest athletes of all time, male or female. Her body reflects her dedication to her sport. No one questions a male athletes muscles. Ugh, so stupid. On the court covered in sweat, or off the court wearing a red dress and heels, she is gorgeous.

  33. j.eyre says:

    When I go to bed at night, I dream of having her arms – they’re gorgeous. Congratulations Serena.

    • korra says:

      Right? They’re fantastic.

    • The Eternal Side-Eye says:

      Her body is seriously amazing. You look at Serena and you just think ‘strong’. Strong in so many ways though, strong because she is capable and successful at her sport. Strong because she is healthy and her skin glows. Strong because there is confidence radiating from within her.

  34. FingerBinger says:

    Body acceptance was my interpretation of the article. I didn’t get that they were insulting Serena.

  35. msw says:

    Ugh stahhhhhhhhhhhhp.

    Just STOP being buttholes. Stop it.

  36. Corrie says:

    I think we should put NYT out of their misery and decline service until they diversify their staff to reflect society. The assertion i think everyone is ignoring is: what does this mean… men always beat women at tennis bc of their strength and force bc i believe plenty of women have defeated men in tennis. And what archaic society still needs set dress sizes and skin color to conform to current day. Now Frum is suggesting Serena’s on steroids, bc God forbid Serena win because of her talent, skill, mental capability etc. Nope, only because she’s doped and built like a man. The racism some mentioned is inferred in that because she’s built, stacked and overly muscular like (black person) not slim, feminine and petite like a white person. Its not overt racism but its stereotyping Serena because of her physique. Meanwhile, Serena was stacked out the womb, Lol. She’s always been shaped different than her sister, broader shoulders & small waist and a healthy thigh – leg muscles. Her arms have become more toned over the years but its not new news. She didn’t walk in one year shaped like Venus and the next shaped like herself. So, this whole conversation is diversion from celebrating her huge feat.
    Cheers Serena. You’re glowingly gorgeous.

  37. Maya says:

    Did we all read the same article? It talks about how many of the top women athletes are sadly still more concerned with looking slim and feminine instead of building the body that will make them best at their job. It also talks about Serena and the issues she had with body acceptance and how she eventually embraced her body.

    I got the feeling that the article was pointing out how looks are sadly still very important when it comes to women athletes. And when I say looks I mean looking what people perceive as feminine.

    Personally, I am short and muscular and for a long time I would not lift any weights either because god forbid I get more bulky. Oddly enough I have never heard any criticism of my body from men, but I hear from women all the time how they are terrified of bulking up… Somewhere around the time I turned 30 and said screw it and started working out with some heavy weights. While I’m not a professional athlete I do have a job in which being fit and strong is an asset. I also do participate in some sports fairly competitively. I am ok with the fact that being able to do what I love to the best of my ability makes me look less ideally feminine.

    • WillowS says:

      I agree @Maya. I didn’t think the article was as bad as many on this site think. It annoyed me that a man was writing about female body types, though, and in general I felt like the article was not really pertinent/necessary. Still, I was expecting much worse from the headline.

    • Sandra says:

      That’s what I thought too. The article seemed to lament that professional athletes are foregoing being the best athlete they can be in order to be thin and beautiful. They would rather be ranked lower and thin instead of ranked higher and muscular. I am really not getting the Serena shade at all, rather it celebrated her dedication and making her sport a priority. I thought it was an interesting piece.

  38. teacakes (formerly oneshot) says:

    Despite the stupidity of some media outlets , businesses, and thinly veiled racists/sexists, Serena Williams is without a doubt one of the greatest athletes of all time.

    and Queen J.K. Rowling does not stand for nonsense attempts to detract from that.

  39. Mellie says:

    I wish I looked half as good as she does and so do most women I know…she looks strong, sexy and healthy. I’d much rather my daughters look to her as a physical role model than to some chain smoking runway model.

  40. Flim says:

    NYT is reporting on other tennis professionals, not stating its own opinion. The coaches and players who cast shade at muscled women–that’s who deserves your criticism.

  41. another nina says:

    The article states that Serena is unique, and I’m all for celebrating and admiring her uniqueness. But there is an unbridgeable gulf between uniqueness and mainstream…Do you really think that it’s possible for a regular woman to achieve such physical condition? Furthermore, is it really necessary to bulk up to such an extent in an everyday life just to resemble Serena?
    I think that the most important point of the article is that Serena, unique as she is, has grown to accept who she is and feels very comfortable in her body. That’s a great life lesson…

    • Kitten says:

      It is absolutely possible. Yes, there’s definitely a genetic component but it’s mostly just dedication–strict eating, targeted and consistent workouts, etc.

      • another nina says:

        I was trying to say that her unique physical build-up is a combination of various factors. Ok, I can bulk up but would I be capable of running as quick as she does even with the help of all these muscles? No. How will my body carry this extra weight? Could there be probelms with joints, knees, rotators, etc? How will it affect resilience? what about flexibility? how will it affect tecnique? Also, agnezhka has a completely different body type, lean with thin bones, so getting same volume could just make her heavy…Plus, we don’t want Serena to slim down to say, Agnezhka’s condition, but why would we want the opposite?

      • korra says:

        Well that’s what makes her an elite athlete, a level of genetic gifts. There is a certain point where her skill and talent is just better and no amount of training will benefit her competitors enough to beat her. But considering most of the people she’s playing also have skill and talent, they are absolutely capable of building the strength they need to make themselves better players in general. Which is what the article seems to really narrow down to.

        If you train consistently especially with weights and progressive overloading it will do nothing but benefit your joints, knees, rotators. Technique is solved by training and practicing and figuring out how your body works and moves if you add muscle or lose weight. Everybody needs to have flexibility work, balance training, some type of resistance training, and cardio. For a specific sport they focus on certain things over others. I know of an ultra marathoner that does all those things to prevent injury. But ultimately their focus is on running. They do just enough of the other things to maintain their health and benefit their running. Agnezhka wouldn’t look like serena if she bulked up. She would look like herself, but could be more powerful and quicker. An athlete would want to do those things to be a better athlete.

        I see quite a few people who work out just to achieve a body type similar to Serenas. But their own version. I certainly want to be as fit as she is.

      • another nina says:

        My point is that the strength training won’t necessarily make them “better players, in general.” Most likely, it will increase, say, a strength of a serve but additional weight will slow them down. Serena has a perfect balance of strength+speed and flexibility, and I do believe that it’s genetic.

        “If you train consistently especially with weights and progressive overloading it will do nothing but benefit your joints, knees, rotators. Again, sounds good in theory, except that it does not necessarily benefit, since elite players already possess a healthy muscle carcas. However, additional weight training will kill knees, etc.

  42. Lizzieb says:

    I’d give my right arm to look like Serena.

  43. G says:

    She’s the baddest in the game. You go girl! “There will be haters…” (I know she’s NIKE)

  44. Dizzybenny says:

    Ru Paul is a dude and can look like that also by the way.
    Just throwing it out there.

    • Neah23 says:

      Not exactly Ru Paul wears a lot of padding to look the way he does when he’s in Drag.