Serena Williams: ‘If they want to market someone white & blond, that’s their choice’

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The US Open begins next week, so there have been a lot of pre-Open events in New York this week. These are photos of Serena Williams at the Taste of Tennis Gala last night. She looked great, and she’s pretty much the only person who could pull off a sleek black shift dress and sneakers and still look fashion-forward. As for Serena’s path to win the US Open and have the second calendar-Grand Slam in history… well, it’s going to be somewhat difficult for her. Go here to see her schedule. I’m sure she’s capable of winning, but it will be difficult.

Meanwhile, have you read the New York Times’ latest in-depth article about Serena and what Serena “means” for tennis, for sports, for African-Americans, for women, for advertising, for history? It’s a pretty good piece and I ended up feeling sorry for Serena a little bit, not because she’s been the target of so many racist attacks over the years (although I do feel sorry for that as well), but just because it feels like everyone wants Serena to speak about her race and gender in these larger terms, and all Serena wants to do is win. She’s not here to be a spokesperson on certain issues – she’s here to win. Anyway, you can read the full NYT piece here. Some highlights:

What she’s all about: “You don’t understand me. I’m just about winning. It’s not about getting 22 Grand Slams.”

She isn’t focusing on the number of Grand Slams: “I went too crazy. I felt I had to even up with Chris Evert and Martina Navratilova.” Make it to the second week and see what happens, she thought. ‘‘I started thinking like that, and then I got to 19. Actually I got to 21 just like that, so I’m not thinking about 22. I play for me, but I also play and represent something much greater than me. I embrace that. I love that. I want that. So ultimately, when I am out there on the court, I am playing for me.’’

How she feels about Maria Sharapova making so much more in endorsements: “If they want to market someone who is white and blond, that’s their choice…I have a lot of partners who are very happy to work with me. I can’t sit here and say I should be higher on the list because I have won more.’’

On Sharapova being the #1 in endorsements: “I’m happy for her, because she worked hard, too. There is enough at the table for everyone…. We have to be thankful, and we also have to be positive about it so the next black person can be No. 1 on that list. Maybe it was not meant to be me. Maybe it’s meant to be the next person to be amazing, and I’m just opening the door. Zina Garrison, Althea Gibson, Arthur Ashe and Venus opened so many doors for me. I’m just opening the next door for the next person.’’

[From The NY Times]

The references about endorsements are from the findings earlier this year, in which Sharapova – who has only won 5 Grand Slams in her career – makes millions more than Serena Williams in endorsements year after year. And Serena has 21 Grand Slams, and Serena is considered the greatest female athlete in a generation, etc. I don’t really understand why more companies wouldn’t want Serena to represent them. Ugh.

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Photos courtesy of WENN.

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136 Responses to “Serena Williams: ‘If they want to market someone white & blond, that’s their choice’”

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  1. Hawkeye says:

    “Maybe it was not meant to be me. Maybe it’s meant to be the next person to be amazing, and I’m just opening the door” is one of the nicest, most thoughtful, humblest thing I’ve heard a professional athlete say in a long time, if ever. I love it. Good for Serena. I wish Serena had more endorsement deals, because yeah, she’s been transformational for sports.

    • Pinky says:

      She keeps it close to the vest and good on her for it. These pullquotes are spot on. Can’t wait for the Open. So nervous!!!

    • Lensblury says:

      yep.. pulled at my heartstrings.

    • Cynthia says:

      +1.

    • Guesto says:

      Agree, such a gracious way of looking at it.

    • Mary s says:

      She’s a great role model. Also beautiful.

    • lobbit says:

      So gracious. It both saddens and inspires me.

    • MyHiddles says:

      She is all class.

    • Heather says:

      She’s my girl-crush. Raw power of a winner!

    • perplexed says:

      Yeah, I was impressed with how well-articulated that was.

    • Alex says:

      Gracious. But its sad too. Because you know she doesn’t want to be another “angry” stereotype. That her words will be twisted if she says something too out of pocket. Serena does deserve to make more but I think she would rather be the GOAT than making a few more millions shilling products. Serena is one of those athletes that is ALL IN for the game. She’s always been that way

      I’ve always looked up to her. I used to have her poster (and Venus and Dominique) on my wall. And one day if I have a daughter that’s one more person she can look up to as well.

    • C says:

      @hawkeye +1000000

      She is the best. I really hope she wins US Open.

    • Neil says:

      The thing is the people that REALLY matter, McEnroe, Navratilova, etc, talk about her in dynastic and elite terms. That plus all the money she has made allows her the space to see things more from an observer’s standpoint than someone not getting her due recognition. She gets the idiots but they’re mostly found on the internet.

      • Greenieweenie says:

        @Neil, I feel like that’s st I have to remember. That success earns respect from your peers–the rest is just noise. Who cares if others don’t? Their respect doesn’t matter. Serena sounds like she knows that well.

    • Pandy says:

      I feel badly that she still has to open doors in this day and age.

    • Keaton says:

      This makes me tear up. She shows more class than I would. I love her. She’s a real champion

  2. Sabrine says:

    I don’t get it. She’s prettier than Tiger Woods.

    • loislane says:

      Not sure how to interpret this comment…

      • seesittellsit says:

        Nor I. But I will say that snarks aside, it’s useless to try to pretend that Sharapova isn’t far more in the gorgeous model mode than Serena is. She’s sleek and feminine and super-pretty as well as athletic. Serena looks nearly muscle-bound. I’m not defending the standard, only pointing it out.

        And btw editors: when speaking of a woman who is “blonde” you need the “e” at the end.

      • mimif says:

        I don’t really understand why more companies wouldn’t want Serena to represent them. Ugh.

        Because ^^this comment right here.

      • lobbit says:

        @seesittellsit – but you ARE defending a standard, and you are flat out saying that Serena doesn’t meet it.

      • meh says:

        @seesittellsit- Who cares. If companies want a model to shill for them they can hire a far better one than Maria Sharpova. If they want an athlete to endorse them and speak with the authority athletic accomplishment lends them, Serena is far and away the better choice.

        You are incorrect about blond/blonde. That rule applies in French, but either is correct in English because we don’t have gendered grammar in this language.

      • Bridget says:

        Sharapova is just another tall blond in a sea of tall blond – Serena is striking and immediately identifiable.

      • bananapanda says:

        The same thing happened between Chris Evert and Martina Navratilova – Chris got all the endorsements because she was petite and blond, while Martina was considered too muscular (and yes, later on came out of the closet).

        I actually surprised Venus doesn’t get more endorsements because she’s long and lean like a model.

      • HH says:

        @MEH – I can’t say enough ‘THANK YOUS’ in reference to your comment. If companies just wanted models, there’s an entire industry for that. Furthermore, I don’t find Sharapova to be that memorable. Serena, even in photos, has this radiance. That’s what I would want for my brand. I’d want a visual impact.

      • brincalhona says:

        @seesittellsit and @meh: blond/blonde depends on which variety of English you use. In British English, there is a difference for male/female.

    • minx says:

      Uh, what?

      • mimif says:

        Triple wtf. Serena is the consummate BOSS. Here’s to her 22nd grand salami!

      • QQ says:

        Come again??, Nobody is “pretending” shit, if I was Into sports and Even NOT Being Into I wanna see The Big WINNING Muscle Factory Girl That so happens To Look More Like Me, That shit would make me and My gfs and Their Brown Children ELATED! We Cheer and rejoice when a girl Whose looks are a Mirror of ours is Glamazonned the Max in all The Mags or selling us whatever It Is

        The f*ck I want with another blondie selling me something that dont speak to me in any way for The Nth Time, One That On Top of It is a Salty also ran to the powerhouse

      • mimif says:

        Word. I’m a white chick who is totally into sports and Serena is a Demigod. I’ll take her “nearly muscle-bound” physique and everything that goes along with any.day.of.the.week.

      • Bridget says:

        I HATE HATE HATE this idea that women can’t have too many muscles for fear of looking too manly. Because god forbid a woman look powerful.

      • Mary s says:

        @QQ: I smiled at your comment about your girlfriends and their “brown” children. my daughter prefers to describe her skin color as brown rather than black or African American. And a big +1 to the muscle factory girl! Her body is amazing. It’s like art, like she’s a perfect example of female athletism and strength.

      • Judd says:

        BLONDE = Female ~ BLOND = Male

    • Bess says:

      Tiger Woods is half African American and was the highest paid athlete for years. His dark skin didn’t affect his earnings and it shouldn’t affect Serena’s either.

      • Heather says:

        Truth. What Serena can’t say without offending the sponsors she does have might be that she prefers to focus on her game more than endorsements.

        Perhaps, she’s not as competitive about being number one in endorsements as everyone is trying to make her.

        Maybe she’s just about making “enough” doing endorsements she likes doing and being competitive about Tennis and that’s it?

      • anon33 says:

        Tiger Woods does not have “dark” skin. His skin tone is in no way similar to Serena’s; in fact, when he first came on the scene, I assumed he was full Asian.

        He’s also a man, so beauty standards don’t apply to him.

  3. minx says:

    She’s talented and beautiful.

  4. Corrie says:

    I think its pretty clear why she’s not making more in endorsements, and she pretty much said why. We know why. Miley has said why and not apologizing for WHY. But honestly, Serena is still the winner and her humility is answer enough.

  5. Marie-France says:

    These companies are racist, and I think that Serena also believes that. But she is gracious and points out that she is blessed (and she is). I think It’s very smart and very classy of her. Impressing.

    • Lara K says:

      It’s not just companies that are racist. Unfortunately this is a reflection of society as a whole.
      Companies are about money, and it seems consumers as a whole respond better to a blonde princess than a black superwoman. I hate it, and I think it’s a sign that we need to change societal norms more broadly. Until that happens, companies will follow the dollar.

      • Violet says:

        These are just lies of convenience the powers that be put out to defend their own biases. Same thing they do in Hollywood “this doesn’t sell”, even when it does sell and they’re examples of it selling like Girl with a Dragon Tattoo (strong female lead), Fresh Prince of Bel Air etc (all black cast) Carmen (black female lead) etc. How can they argue black/brown/asian doesn’t sell if they don’t put it out there and give it a chance by putting it out there consistently in the same way they do for their counterparts? And if it doesn’t are people like Naomi Campbell or Tyra Banks charity cases, do they lose money with them? Why would their blackness sell but others wouldn’t. Companies have the reach and power to dictate trends, the public don’t create dumb trends like size zero, women, the same women they are supposedly catering to are not overly concerned with being tall or flat chested. There are more benign trends the fashion industry pick up on and capitalize on then there are ones like skin colour, height, extreme body shape which are stupid, pointless and designed to be exclusive in every meaning of the word which are sold to us and then when they’re criticized magically it’s “our” ideals as a whole they’re catering to.

      • Lozface says:

        Very true. I love sport and Serena is a goddess to me (and I’m a little white girl from Australia), but the big companies believe she won’t sell like Maria would. Terrible attitudes if you ask me.

        I was really proud/pleased when Serena was the star of a Berlei sports bra campaign here in Australia. Berlei is a huge underwear company here and the go to sports bra for anyone who excercises so I loved that they recognised she is the greatest tennis player / athlete of our time and genuinely needs ‘good support’ when she plays! Who better to sell that to us ladies who also need ‘good support’!

        She’s very loved here because she’s been so successful. 6 Aussie Open singles titles!

        I bet she inspires our indigenous and African migrant communities and all young girls here in Australia.

      • Bridget says:

        Look at Straight Outta Compton – a different studio actually passed on the movie because they didn’t think a movie with a primarily black cast would make money. Guess they misjudged that one!

        Companies will always assume that they know that people want the ‘safe bet’. The familiar faces that we’ve seen time and time again. That doesn’t mean they’re right though.

      • MrsNix says:

        @Violet – EXACTLY!

        There is so much non-white, engaging talent out there in the modeling and film/acting world. Gorgeous people with all kinds of builds out there. This blonde waif standard, which is its own legitimate kind of beauty, is not the only thing people want to see. As just one example: Regina King is one of my girl crushes. That woman owns every screen she’s ever been on. Her voice, her face, and her physicality are so engaging. She could have been a headliner, but black women are not allowed to be superstars and romantic leads in American film.

        The “it doesn’t sell” line is an excuse, and it’s a crappy one. They’ve never TRIED it…so how can they say it doesn’t sell?

        When I look back at television programs where they risked the “it won’t sell” and put black or non-white actors in the leads, there were some hugely successful things that got done. Violet named several. Scandal is one that comes to mind in the present, headlined by a gorgeous black female romantic and heroine lead. Millions of butts are in the seats every week for that show.

        One thing that I hope Serena will take comfort in, however: Everyone knows her name, knows who she is, and recognizes her face and figure. Unless you follow tennis, which I don’t, you’ve never heard of Sharapova.

  6. Vic says:

    You don’t know why? Because race. She answered so perfectly. Stay classy Serena! Everyone knows you are #1!!

  7. Gina says:

    I dont really it’s the race issue. Sharapova just has more “modely” appearance (which is depressing) than Serena. If Serena looked anything like Naomi Campbell (I dont think she needs to, its just the cruel world of advertising) everyone would like to hire her. Look at RIhanna – lots of contracts, photoshoot every month. It’s not about race

    • lobbit says:

      Yeah, it sort of is about race.

    • icy says:

      Smh! #stay sleep

    • kri says:

      It’s about race and how a woman “should” look. And it blows. I never do this but..@seesittellsit-you are so dead wrong. “Nearly muscle bound”?! WTF are you talking about. SHE IS A REAL ATHLETE AND A REAL WOMAN!! She is built for her sport and it is a beautiful thing. Sure, some people think MS is “more model-” or whatever. Who cares? oh I’m just furious. And on a personal note, I’m muscle bound and proud. Allof those years starving and bending over a toilet are over. I hope young girls look at Serena and are inspired the way I am.

      • mimif says:

        Amen. Weak AF argument and oh-so-telling about where we still are in 2015 FFS.
        I have to get off here before I blow a bound muscle….

    • Pinky says:

      Venus has Naomi’s physique and more wins than Sharapova. K. I’ll wait right here for your reply….

      Tock. Tick.

      • Gina says:

        I’m sorry, but Venus doesn’t have the “required look” either (which is fine). You just want it to be about race. Very few companies would hire women of any race to endorse their products with face and body like Serena’s. I don’t remember Steffi Graf’s face in major commercials of Martina Navratilova’s. It’s all about the beauty standards. And NOT “white” beauty standards.

      • Pinky says:

        @Gina Thank you for being sorry. I accept your apology. I think Venus does have “the look.” She’s tall, thin, and beautiful. Only real difference is her color. By definition, the beauty standard is “white.” Thanks for playing. Try again next time.

      • Anne tommy says:

        Patronising, Pinky. There are many great female athletes who have never made much in endorsements. They are of various ethnicities. I don’t find Venus beautiful- wonderful figure but Serena is prettier. All subjective. Objectively Serena is an all- time great and Deserves huge respect for that. subjectively, I don’t find her likeable. That’s my perogative.

      • Pinky says:

        @Anne it doesn’t matter to me if you find Venus beautiful, as your opinion doesn’t matter unless you are Tag Heur”s or Nike’s etc. target maket. The point is, you don’t seem capable of finding someone with ethnic features beautiful. They must be Anglocized, and that’s the point of this whole discussion. Thanks for identifying yourself as part of the problem.

      • Anne tommy says:

        I’m doing no such thing. Nothing in what I have said supports the conclusion You have reached. And I am entitled to express my opinion on this site. It hardly needs saying – but I will say it anyway – that women, and men, of all ethnicities can be beautiful, or other wise. It would be stupid and racist to suggest otherwise. I am neither.

    • KK2 says:

      Yeah, it is though. Caucasian standard of beauty. Not to say gender is irrelevant if we were comparing Tiger to Serena and why her looks matter while his don’t nearly as much. But that’s a different conversation altogether and that’s not what Serena was asked about or what she was addressing. As to Serena vs Sharapova, it’s about race and standards of beauty (based on race).

      Love her. Love her answer here. That was a difficult question to be asked and she handled it beautifully. Difficult question because you of the sensitivity of the issue, not because it’s hard to figure out the answer.

      • Gina says:

        I respect Serena endlessly. But she’s obviously would not be considered as “beautiful” by most people of any race. Which is completely fine, she doesnt need that. She’s confident, successful and sexy. What on earth is “white beauty standart”? Having blond hair? most of white people don’t. If it was “a standard” all people would dye their hair blond. And we see like 1 in 10 women go blonde tops. We don’t see any brunettes in commercials? Or having darker in not “in trend” skin? Yeah, that’s why tanning salons dont exist and nobody goes there ever :)

      • ummmm... says:

        GINA,

        please do a Google search for BEAUTIFUL WOMAN and tell me what you get.

        UGH. Why is our responsibility to educate the unwilling to very obvious facts? It’s tiring to watch people argue when it’s laid out if they were only willing to look.

      • anon33 says:

        only 1 in 10 women go blonde? where do you live?

        Also, tanned Caucasian skin is still not black skin. Stop with the straw men and the false equivalencies.

    • danielle says:

      I think it’s about race, but you have a point, it is also about her face and body. Rihanna, Beyonce, Lupita, they are gorgeous, she is not. Anyway, it’s ridiculous, because her achievements as an athlete that should matter when she is hired to represent a product, if they wanted just a pretty face, could hire a random model.

      • DA says:

        Agreed, it’s about attractiveness as well.

      • Keaton says:

        I agree with this. It’s both. An intra-race example would be Martina Navritilova vs Chris Evert. Martina had more muscle definition and was less conventionally “cute’ than Chris. Chris got more promotion and endorsements.

        But I think race is an even bigger factor here. Basically companies are chicken hearted and think a black woman (especially one with a body like hers) won’t sell.

  8. Nanea says:

    Is that the NYT’s way of making amends, after that fiasco in time for Wimbledon, the body image story?

  9. ashley says:

    Good for her,i can’t wait for the us open! I wish her all the best.

  10. QQ says:

    Thread about to get Depressing, it seems

  11. Patty says:

    Maria Sharapova isn’t even that good looking. Anna Kournikova was prettier and she wasn’t the bee knees either.

    • meh says:

      Right? Just hire a model and make her hold a tennis racket at that point.

    • Guesto says:

      Really, no need to bring Sharapova down in order to make a point. She’s not responsible for the racism and sexism that affects Serena. It’s not her fault she happens to have the ‘advertiser’ appeal she has, plus she works really hard at her game. So let’s not blame her for the venal greed and lack of courage of those who see Serena, despite her huge talent and indomitable spirit, as not ‘mainstream enough’ for their brand and instead, take the ‘safe’ route.

      Serena knows this and seems to have made her peace with it. And is incredibly gracious in the face of it.

      But she, and anyone who cares about this, has every right to rage against it.

      • wonderwoman21 says:

        Sharapova at the very least could say something about it, but I know white people don’t like to admit to their white privilege. Sharapova is less talented and making more money because she’s white. When you say she’s more “mainstream” and has more of an acceptable look that’s literally because she is white. People consider white people to be “neutral” and marketable meanwhile nonwhite is “inaccessible” because it’s niche; this is because whiteness is shoved down our throats from the day we are born.
        Maria Sharapova is guilty of sucking at the teat of white surpemacy 🐸🍵

      • Guesto says:

        Whoa, you’re way too hostile for me. Your ‘them and us’ response is so divisive, so counter productive and so off-putting.

        But, you know, carry on generalising about your idea of ‘white’ people.

        I’ve already put my Serena cards solidly on the table here so you trying to twist it to satisfy your own ‘sucking at the teat of white surpemacy’ agenda is so sad.

      • wonderwoman21 says:

        Hostile? How so? Was any of what I said personally attacking you or was any abusive language used? Nope; but your response dismissing my points because I’m angry (I’m not) is a typical response as is you blaming racism on people who discuss it rather than people who perpetuate it.
        Maria Sharapova benefits from white privilege, as do many people in media and other walks of life; she’s a less talented athlete raking in millions more than a more talented athlete because she has the “look” (white, thin). The least she could do is acknowledge it and talk about it.

      • wonderwoman21 says:

        Maria Sharapova is literally benefiting for brands’ preferences for a white face and the public’s preference (whether consciously or subconsciously). She’s benefiting from white surpemacy itself. But keep crying about white people being generalized (which actually I never generalized whites as whole) while black/brown women lose out on endorsements and opportunities 🐸🍵

      • anon33 says:

        So, you say everyone has a right to rage, but when WW21 does, you say she’s being divisive. Just stop. People like you are part of the problem.

    • TripleThreat says:

      I completely agree..You make a good point.

    • Samtha says:

      Tearing other women down doesn’t help anyone.

  12. Bridget says:

    I love Serena. She’s powerful and confident and has fire in her soul.

  13. Jo 'Mama' Besser says:

    Liking the stealth shade she’s doling out. Go win it!

  14. perplexed says:

    I didn’t realize Maria Sharapova had won only 5 Grand Slams. The way the commentators would go on about her and because of her rivalry with Serena, I thought it was more.

    Back in the day, Anna Kournikova had a lot of endorsements. I don’t think she won one single Slam.

    • Bridget says:

      Not even CLOSE to a rivarly with Serena. Sharapova has lost to Serena something like 19 out of their last 20 matchups.

      I’ll give Kournikova a tiny bit of credit – she won several Slams in doubles.

      • Tig says:

        And if memory serves, she won those doubles with Hingis. Remember Chris Evert once commenting that if Kournakova committed to tennis, she could be a top ten player- but even then she had one foot out the door.

      • Bridget says:

        Kournikova was a mess, though she was at one point a top ten player. But can you really blame her for not being as interested? She had money and attention thrown at her and didn’t have to work nearly as hard.

    • Samtha says:

      For a while, she could compete with Serena. She hurt her shoulder and had to have surgery and has never really been the same since, while Serena’s game has just gotten stronger and stronger.

      • Amber says:

        It wasn’t a while though. In 2004, when she was 17, she beat Serena at Wimbledon and again, same year, at the end of the year championships. That’s it. And that was the last time. (Before the ’04 Wimbledon they had played in Miami and Serena won that as well.) The shoulder injury came in during the clay court season in 2007 through to 2009, and then again at the end of 2013. Serena too was struggling between 2005-2009 with knee, ankle, and quad problems, depression, etc., Williams was in and out and inconsistent throughout that period. They played four times during that era and (of course with that 17 match win streak) Serena won them all. Even when Sharapova was hitting the number one ranking in the world in ’05, ’07, ’08, and 2012, it made no difference. When Maria was the top seed (and getting to the finals made her #1 again), Serena, out of shape and ranked at 81 in the world, gave Sharapova one of the worst beatdowns of her career in the ’07 Australian Open final. It is, and has been for some time, a big deal if there’s a tie-break or Maria wins a set. To be fair though–About that #1 ranking, because it proves a point–Sharapova has never been dominant. It’s the same way she’s never defended a Grand Slam title. She was only ever able to hold the top rank at most for a few months at a time, (for a career total of 21 weeks).

  15. Chinoiserie says:

    It could be about race and it could be about that she is not model thin. I personally think it is the later but it is wrong either way.

  16. Sof says:

    I’d like to point out that Chinese player, Li Na, is the second highest-payed female athlete. Most of her earnings come from endorsements, so why was only Sharapova mentioned? The question was made to continue with the Serena- Maria rivalry, nothing to do with race.
    (Side note :I don’t see racial differences with male athletes)

  17. georgia says:

    Rihanna and tiger woods have lighter skin tones than the Williams sisters. It’s shading the shade.

    • anon33 says:

      THANK YOU. people are so GD stupid.

    • Lex says:

      Errrmagherd
      Let’s line up all famous people in order of skin colour like a rainbow chart and determine what they deserve based on that. Obviously the darkest skin people are the worst off right?!?

      Skin colour is a very complicated thing – a mixed race POC growing up in a very dark skinned community can have it even harder than a POC in a white one. And the other way around. And all things in between. No one has identical experiences in life so making generalisations about it really doesn’t help anyone.

      Serena and Venus are multi millionaire insanely privileged women, regardless of the specific pantone number of their skin

  18. Toby says:

    She spoke very eloquently about Sharapova and the perceived rivalry. Sharapova may be making more money but Williams is the one that will go down in history.I am really rooting for her to win that next grand slam.

  19. waitwhat says:

    As a black woman, I don’t find Serena or Venus to be attractive in a traditionally feminine way. They are huge girls, tall, muscular, big arms and large muscular thighs and butts. Why is this a problem to point out? It doesn’t mean you don’t find black women beautiful if they- Serena and Venus- dont appeal to your taste. And it’s also ok to acknowledge that being overly muscular isn’t feminine. Women typically aren’t naturally muscular like that unless they’ve gone above and beyond in the gym to get that physique. I say this often on this site, but we’re getting WAY too PC, bordering on social engineering. Men and women have a different genetic make up and when a woman is tall, muscular, and large in general it’s not absurd to liken that to a man’s body.
    With that being said,I do think the lack of endorsements is due to race. Even if she and her sis looked like Riri or Bey, Maria would probably still have more endorsements. I think her answer regarding this is eloquent and considerate.

    • Veronica says:

      I think the problem is more that the underlying implication that a woman shouldn’t look that way when it’s perfectly appropriate for an ATHLETE to have that kind of musculature. There are plenty of male athletes with advertising deals who are hardly model worthy, so why should women have to be beautiful in order to be worth the endorsement?

    • TotallyBiased says:

      How you can liken Serena’s incredible curves to a man’s body and say that ISN’T absurd–is absurd to me.
      How about: her body isn’t feminine TO YOU. And to certain societal constructs in certain societies.
      She’s a freakin’ Goddess.

  20. Tanya says:

    I <3 her. And yes, of course it's about race, and about how sex sells, and what's perceived as sexy and beautiful in her society. I think it takes a tremendous amount of self-discipline to rise above all the negative messages society sends you and keep your sense of self-worth and gratitude despite it. Go Serena!

  21. Guesto says:

    You know what’s making me a little sad here? This thread is now on page. 2. There are posts on page 1 with similiar (give or take 5 posts) numbers of responses so it kind of looks like this one has been consigned to P.2 for ‘commercial’ reasons.

    Oh the irony, I’m sure Serena is somewhere nodding her head and laughing.

  22. TripleThreat says:

    Look..this woman is truly, authentic triple threat. She has it all. Her secret is harnessing discipline. It’s like being your own nanny, is what it is. She’s just happened to be blessed by parents who show up.
    Cards held to musicular, firm chest. I predict this brilliant class act will build an empire in her future. She has her own secret, obsessive fan rage as a fetishist of sort. Figure it out. She’s actually a quadruple threat because her rare type of woman is admired universally by all sexes. Wait for it. This is the one to keep an eye on.

  23. Tiara says:

    I’m not even into sports of an sort but I’ve always known about Serena and Venus. I think they are beautiful strong black women and that deserves to be represented through the media. As an black women, I always see black people shown in a negative light, (love and hip hop and Maury ect) or if they are black and shown in a positive light they are almost always lighter complected and have euro-centric features. The media and society as a whole needs to let go of the idea that being thin and white is ideal. Serena is much more deserving of these endorsements because of her talent. Point, blank period.

    • Lucy2 says:

      I don’t follow a lot of sports, and rarely watch tennis, but I remember when Venus and Serena started playing professionally and being blown away by them.
      It really is a shame that Serena is not the most in demand for endorsements- I think she is beautiful, incredibly talented, incredibly hard-working, and just an amazing athlete. Any company should be proud to have her represent them.

  24. TripleThreat says:

    My agreement statement actually was misplaced and meant for Patty above

  25. TripleThreat says:

    Wait..the world is starting to change socially, authenticly. It’s because we’re all connected to each other, as we should be. Become cosmopolitan. All for one..blah blah. Look at what puritanical US pulled of this summer. Combined with a tech revolution and online social opinions. Much more powerful than a court of law, I’d say. The good valuable members of society resonates among message boards, especially Celebitchy.

  26. iheartgossip says:

    As a woman of mixed race; I don’t find either Williams sister to be traditional beauties. I also believe some of the supplements they’ve taken have added a more masculine touch. I do applaud their strong, individuality, athletic, clean lifestyles. No ‘accidental’ flashes while exiting a car, no drunken antics, destructive relationships – it would be nice to see more women, girls, ladies aspire to these traits. Celebrate your curves & strength

  27. Frosty says:

    What is with the NYT’s obsession with Serena’s race? I feel like they keep trying to make some kind of issue out of it and that bugs me. Serena’s quote about endorsements made me laugh though – love the way she confirmed out that yes she should make more because she’s won more than Sharipova. LOL That was smoothly done

  28. DTX says:

    Oh em gee….Kim Kardashian is trying to morph her face to look like Serena. What S has naturally, K and her little sis are trying to create artificially. Holy cow. Am I just drunk? GFs are over my place and we are cruising the posts & drinking wine and this is sticking out to me so much. We all see it.

  29. Vampi says:

    Wow! Serena is da BOMB! She’s beautiful and has a killer body I’d loooove to have! More Serena please!

  30. WallFlower says:

    Clearly, Serena not getting more endorsements than Sharapova is about race. You’d have to be slow not to see that. It’s all white supremacy here, nothing more than that. Serena would clearly sale more product than Sharapova, but marketers don’t want to see a black woman show white woman up. Yet, Serena’s showing her up on the court though. Get it, Serena.

  31. Original T.C. says:

    What I find interesting about Serena and Venus are their ability to focus and their training plus achievement. It’s motivational for me to get off my butt and do more. Then more interviews on that and less on their looks.

    It is funny that people like to pretend the rules of beauty standards are the same for Black skinned women vs. lighter skin women or vs. men with Dark skin for that matter. Society engages in colorism. The lighter your skin for women, the more you are viewed as pretty and feminine. Skin bleaching creams aren’t popular in the U.S., Indian and Asia by accident.

    This colorism is reverse in men. The tall, dark prince is the dream that is put in young girl’s heads. Dark Black men are more likely to be picked by studios and also in most sexiest male lists. Think of famous actors, how many of them have Beyoncé or Halle’s fair complexion? How many dark skinned Black athletes have sponsorship vs the light skinned ones? If fair skin is associated with feminine delicacies it works to the disadvantage of lighter skin Black men or biracial ones. Colorism.

  32. EM says:

    When they market someone for their actual sporting merit, then it’s fair, but to market someone just because they are blonde and white – when they haven’t achieved equally – gives the message that looks are all you need.
    It would annoy me to see someone like Anna Kournikova being endorsed, just like it annoys me to see Sharapova, who is more known for her annoying grunt than anything she has won.

  33. RATM says:

    ok so i’m a huge tennis fan (and fashion) and know way too much about this people but here it goes:

    regardless of what’s listed on the WTA site, here are the stats:
    sharapova is 6’2″ / 188 cm (she has gained muscle over time and with age and gained a considerable amount of weight in the last year, chica is 28)
    venus is 6’1″ (is battling a immune deficiency)
    serena is 5’10″ (was super fit in 2012, has slacked off lately and put on some weight, but better get it together for NYC)

    they are ALL power players. the ALL bash the ball. one does it more accurately, with more tactics, and better mentality and that is why she has the record she has (serena)

    sharapova shoulders are the largest (and she should thank them. they make her the power player she is. her game simulates venus’ most closely)
    sharapova has the biggest hips (frontal view, she’s just built that way)
    venus is the most lithe naturally (she LOOSES weight, like becomes modelesque when she is not playing tennis, built like her dad)
    serena is the most muscular (but gets soft when she stops playing tennis, like her mom) and has the biggest butt

    looks wise (im thinking YSL circa 1980′s couture), it is: venus > sharapova > serena

    however, who can be the most striking (and maybe this is just great makeup artists: serena > sharapova = venus. serena’s face can just morph (in good and bad ways)

    attitude / i.e. “professionalism”, this is the sexist world of sports where women cannot make social mistakes: sharapova > venus > serena. why? sharapova never goes off script unless she wants to send a bit@hy shade (god, she’s bit@chy). there is nothing unscripted about her. we call her the corporate drone but that is what corporations want.

    in the western world, “white” people have the most capital. they will most likely related more to a white face and have been conditioned to think that other faces do not equal smart, rich, etc.

    sharapova works HARD for her money, i mean the chic is putts KK to shame.

    so in the end, its the world we live in where things are euro-centric, sexist, and certain places are still benefiting from extracting resources and oppressing from other places (hurting them) so wealth is where it is.

    serena is amazing and right – don’t ignore but don’t let it stop you and change it as much as you can.

  34. bettyrose says:

    These comments have been so informative. I don’t follow tennis and really only know these names in passing. The complexity of racial-sexism (what else to call it?) is astounding. Tiger Woods was praised to God-like status for being a mixed race athletic star in white man’s sport. His face was everywhere. He had a gorgeous blond(e) wife (more praise). It’s tiresome that anyone in 2015 has to be opening doors. Serena should be praised/rewarded for her accomplishments, not being successful while black, but it’s even more tiresome that race is a factor in athletic endorsements. It’s goddamn 2015 people!! It’s a freaky spaceage sounding year with problems dragged in from 1960.

  35. Lissanne says:

    In Brooklyn, where I live, there are 1 millon people on Medicaid. Anyone understand how poor you have to be to qualify for Medicaid? Racism and poverty are alive and well in NYC and all over this country, and the amount of endorsements that some athlete earns is irrelevant. Actually, I think the inflated salaries/prize money/endorsement fees available to star athletes set up a false expectation, that anyone can do well if they try hard enough. Well, no, not anyone can be a star athelete. If Serena, Venus, and yes, Maria and all of the rich, priveleged athletes for that matter want to use the respect and fame they have gained to talk about the diffculties faced by real people, then I will respect them for that. Not for supporting consumerism and false hopes.

    Now, descending from my high horse for all of you New Yorkers who cannot or will not shell out the inflated ticket price for a nose bleed seat at the at the US Open, I recommend the WNBA New York Liberty games at Madison Square Garden. Tickets are cheap ($20 will get you a good view), they just made the play-offs, the crowd is boisterous and wildly enthused, and the half-time and time-out entertainment is a lot of fun/kinda nutty.

  36. Tracy says:

    Serena, know this. We will be talking about you and your magnificent talent, work ethic and elegant personal carriage for decades to come. For generations. And while I mean no disrespect to Anna and all the other “runners up”, our fascination with them will fade the moment their endorsement contracts run their course. Serena Williams has set a bar for excellence that will take generations to beat. And that, is winning.

  37. Wolf says:

    Any advertiser would be lucky to get Serena. Not Serena the African American, not Serena the model but Serena the Champion. Capital C. She’s amazing.

  38. TotallyBiased says:

    ‘But she’s obviously would not be considered as “beautiful” by most people of any race. ‘
    As I’ve said upthread, and on previous threads:
    Serena is a Goddess.
    She is (as another poster put it) striking– I would LOVE to photograph her!
    I, personally, am dumbstruck by how beautiful she is.
    Putting aside all the stats re who is making the most money from endorsements, let’s stop with the BROAD generalizations that imply everyone would agree she isn’t beautiful or feminine. ‘Cause those of you posting that are wrong.
    Even JK Rowling drools over her gorgeous FEMALE beauty–and I’m pretty sure JK’s straight.

  39. Gorgonia says:

    if I should choice to look alike Serena Williams or Sharapova, surely I’d choice Serena: she looks so powerful and strong she reminds me of a Warrior goddess (nothing against Sharapova, though). I give a damn if she makes less endorsements, she is the n. 1 and she is already in history, It seems to me she gives a damn too, and this is part of her greatness.

  40. Sara says:

    Wow, she seems like a really good person. Her attitude that she plays for herself and that there is enough money to go around so she’s just thankful is so refreshing and positive. I hope she keeps winning because I just love her. She’s a great role model. And it also makes me think that people who bash her and just nasty. She’s great and she’s beautiful inside and out.

  41. Samtha says:

    I’m interested to know if/how many sponsors and advertising deals Serena lost after her outburst at the US Open a few years ago. Was she higher on the list before that happened?

    It’s a combination of things, IMO: she’s bratty* (something she admits to). She’s black. She doesn’t have society’s favored body type and looks. She’s also older now, and advertising and society in general are not kind to women over 30.

    *If she were a man, this would be overlooked or chalked up to her being a fierce competitor.

    History will remember Serena as one of if not THE greatest players of all time. There used to be a great documentary about her and her sister on Netflix; not sure if it’s still there or not, but if it is, you should all watch it.

    • Samtha says:

      One more thing: the joke is ultimately on the people who won’t hire her. A few years back, when she and Venus played doubles, their matches regularly brought in more viewers than men’s singles matches.

      If you know anything about tennis, this is HUGE. Women’s tennis doesn’t have nearly the same viewership as men’s, and doubles doesn’t have (almost) any viewership at all.

      People want to see the Williams sisters play.

  42. Julesj says:

    If she wins it won’t be the second calendar slam in history. In the open era Rod Laver won it in 1969 (and also in non-Open 1962), Margaret Court won it in 1970 and Steffi Graf had a golden slam in 1988 (she also won the Olympic gold that year). Don Budge and Maureen Connolly each won a slam in the “amateur” years.
    I’m not saying it’s not an amazing accomplishment, but it has certainly been done more than once before.