Serena Williams got ‘body shamed’ for her nipples during Wimbledon

What do you see in this photo? Do you see a world-class athlete in the middle of doing her job? Do you see Serena Williams, the woman, the legend, the #GOAT? Or do you see a woman with nipples, gasp? Serena has been killing it at Wimbledon this year, and many believe she’s on the path to pick up her 22nd Grand Slam. She had a rocky game against Christina McHale in the second round – that was where Serena smashed her racquet and got fined for it – but otherwise, Serena has been in great form. She’s playing Elena Vesnina today, as I’m writing this, and by the time this is published, I expect Serena will have won.

But that’s not the point of this story. The point is that Serena has nipples and sometimes when she’s exerting herself, people can sort of see them through her tennis ensemble. Who cares, right? As it turns out, a lot of people care, and they took to Twitter to complain about Serena’s breasts. I’ll admit that I think about Serena’s breasts when I watch her play too, but I’m mostly thinking “How can she play so well without wearing three sports bras?” She moves so much but her Nike gear keeps her girls in place, despite the fact that Serena has much larger breasts than most of the women on the circuit. Anyway the BBC actually received complaints about Serena’s nipples. Seriously. And people were on Twitter complaining, then other people shouted down the whiners.

I’ve been watching Wimbledon a lot this year (it plays on ESPN while I’m at the gym), and you know who else has distracting nipples while they play? Roger Federer. Andy Murray. Even Novak! But no, let’s “shame” Serena. I wonder why that is?


Photos courtesy of Fame/Flynet, WENN, Getty.

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92 Responses to “Serena Williams got ‘body shamed’ for her nipples during Wimbledon”

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  1. lisa2 says:

    There are always comment about women’s nipples. Sadly depending on who the woman is it is either fine or offensive.

    • detritus says:

      Jen Aniston made a business out of her hard nips.
      Didn’t she actually start selling fake ones so people could get her look?
      Or was that a gag that I believed because it seemed pretty par for the course for JA?
      Either way – sexy on JA, horribly gross and distracting on Serena.

      This is a double whammy of racism and sexism.

      • Nancy says:

        Jennifer to this day has them poking out of her shirt. For some reason, doesn’t look the same at her age now (ageism noted) as when she was on Friends, Lisa and Courtney as well. It’s her thing. I think it’s “utterly” ridiculous that people would take the time to comment on nipples during such a fast paced tennis match with such a pro. Rihanna speak up please…..jk

      • Kiliki says:

        Serena is a goddess.

        TRUTH about JA’s nips.

      • Moomoo says:

        My significant other was interested to see what all the hype was about and exclaimed “That’s it, just because they’re poking out?! I thought they would be completely showing through her top. Now I’m disappointed.” And then, “What’s she supposed to do about that?”

        ^This from a guy who is (sadly) not a feminist in any sense of the word.

    • Lola says:

      First, My eyes first went towards her nipples. Second, and who the flip cares?!?!?!??!?

      Like seriously, do people not have much else to talk about when it comes to Serena that people get all in a tizzy over some nipples. God, you know how many nipples I see through bathing suits at the beach? Maybe we should ban swimming for the ladies because it’s just too flipping distracting.

      • detritus says:

        I used to swim competitively, and man you could see everyone’s nipples. EVERYONE. Those swim suits are so tight you can tell how a person shaved their bikini line, and every little bump on the areola.
        Parents, coaches, officials, other swimmers, everyone managed to continue their days as if this was a normal part of the human body. Crazy right?

      • Hadleyb says:

        My first thought is “nipples” when I see the pic. I don’t care. But if she’s not wearing a sports bra — this sounds painful!

        And I don’t think saying a comment is body shaming, or bullying, We bandy those words around way too much lately.

        I personally don’t care for Serena, her attitude etc but I don’t care if she has nipples showing through her outfit.

      • tback says:

        Everyone has nipples! Some people even have an extra….get over it FFS

    • fee says:

      I am watching Wimbledon 24/7, no one made comments, if a few dumb people made comments who cares.U should the crap they post of up skirts 2 the female players. Why posts this? Creating drama where none is.

  2. Kitten says:

    SMDH. Suddenly the FreeTheNip campaign doesn’t seem so silly, does it?

    She looks so pretty in that header shot. Sigh. I wish I could get away with fuschia lipstick and her hair is perfection.

    • Insomniac says:

      I think I just bought that color from Sephora. I probably can’t get away with it either, but I wear it anyhow.

    • detritus says:

      I was just thinking that about the campaign. The girls who do it are usually kind of dumb and thirsty, but the issue is real.
      Also agreed. on the lip colour is so great on her. And her skin. Beautiful and glowing.

  3. ashipper says:

    I was just watching her play and all I could think about was how pretty she looked. I loved the way she had her hair styled. I didn’t think about her nipples at all. People are so weird!

  4. Eleonor says:

    I don’t get this nipple thing.
    In summer I go bra-less (small boobs) and I don’t see the problem at all.
    Women are supposed to have nipples why should we hide them ???

    • Amelia says:

      Because misogyny.
      Breasts are for staring at and sexy times only, dontcha know?

      I am also hugely impressed Serena can perform so well without having to straightjacket her girls like I do. It makes her achievements all the more incredible in my book.

      • MiniMii says:

        Misogyny? I bet the majority of the complaints came from women, not men.

        I wear sports bras to the gym and some of them allow my nipples to show when I’m working out. Guess who gives me the death glares? Women. Men never give a rat’s ass, with the rare exception of some of the old, very conservative types.

    • fruitloops says:

      Yup,we should hide them,all the while men can shamelessly show their fat greasy sweaty stomachs and hanging man boobs. That is more insulting to me than nipples seen through clothes but I don’t go around telling them and the whole internet to hide it,yet women should be ashamed and shamed for something they can’t control… SMH…

      • Nancy says:

        Agree but those fat greasy sweaty guys are the ones staring at the nips. I keep mine covered but if ladies want to free the nipple go for it.

      • Otaku Fairy says:

        All people have nipples, but since straight males are only turned on by our nipples, ours have to be hidden. Conversations about what we’re supposed to hide almost always seem to come back to what the opposite sex will think/feel/do.

    • HH says:

      Going braless in public… what a dream. I have big boobs so any attempt to go without a bra is followed by waves of anxiety.

      • Eden75 says:

        I went braless in public for the first time in May. I am not overly chesty (mid-sized C) but I was terrified. One of my friends at the event commented on the dress I was wearing and I confided this info to her. Her reply was that if she could at our age after 2 kids, she would and a high five for having the cojones to do it. It was a pretty liberating experience, I have to admit.

        I don’t understand the commotion over this. If she is able to do her job, bra or no bra, who freaking cares? This tells me that people are obviously not paying attention to the match. I guess now we will have to watch and see which of the guys have nips out or have a dong sloshing around in his shorts so everyone else can be offended. Oy vey…….

      • Eleonor says:

        This is why I admire french girls: here is pretty common, and honestly it’s freaking hot, I cannot stand a bra with this weather, but I have to admit that it took me at least 4-5 years to go braless. I started with a few trip: supermarket, or saturday morning market, then I put it back. But seeing a lot of women of all ages helped me a lot.

  5. Sayrah says:

    Love her. She’s definitely the GOAT. And I have nipple issues occasionally too. What exactly am I supposed to do? I don’t do padded bras because I’m already a d cup. People need to get a life.

    • fruitloops says:

      And why should you wear a padded bra if you don’t want to? Bras are a new invention anyway,padded bras even newer,how are people suddenly so sensitive about nipples? I wore padded bras because they fit my breasts better,but now I don’t any more since I got pregnant,because they got uncomfortable,and now because I’m breastfeeding, and couldn’t give a flying f*** for anyone who has a problem with my nipples.

      • Elyna says:

        When I was an “A” cup, I had obvious “headlights”. I felt pressured in to finding a bra with enough padding so they would not show, no matter how uncomfortable the bra. No luck. Now that I’ve had children and am a full “D”, the “headlights” are still an issue causing embarrassment. I have found NO bra that can downplay my nipples. It’s time to stop caring. Serena looks great! I’m going to follow her attitude. Thanks Sayrah and fruitloops for the posts :)

    • RedOnTheHead says:

      Sayrah, another D cup here. The silicone nipple “guards” are great for hiding headlights should you choose. I’m not sure what they’re called exactly, but they are easy to find. I got mine in a department store. I personally have no problems with anyone letting their nipple flag fly, but I’m not always comfortable doing it myself. Depends on the situation. If I want to make sure I have no poke through I use these silicone thingies. They can be reused forever because there’s no glue involved.

      • Eden75 says:

        The skin toned, non fabric band aids work too, as long as your not a 5 smartie high kind of nipple girl. I had a roommate who was maybe a B but had the always on headlight issue and she used the band aid fix for years.

    • Lala says:

      Sayrah, I have the same issue. DD and don’t want to buy a t-shirt bra that would make them even larger!

      In Serena’s case, it’s only an issue because she doesn’t fit their stereotype. Anyone who tweets about her nipples is showing their true nature. Wishing Serena the best!

  6. Whatabout says:

    Am I crazy or does Nike design the worst tennis outfits for women? I wonder if How much say Serena has in the design choice. Or if she has any at all?

    • Robin says:

      NIke’s outfits are awful. They hit a new low with the baby doll dresses this year. But I would think an athlete of Serena’s caliber and fame would have final say in what she wears, especially since she likes to design her own clothes.

    • Kimbers says:

      Nike is about their name and has no style to speak of. They’re old.

    • Milo says:

      Ugh, this was my thought when I saw the outfit. I didn’t notice the nipples but I commented to my husband that the style of that outfit is al wrong and would only look appropriate in swan lake.

    • Erica_V says:

      I wish she was sponsored by Under Armour, I feel like they would design such better outfits for her.

  7. Giest says:

    That’s not body shaming.
    No ones saying, “you have ugly nips”
    It’s just pointless point outs. People complaining about nothing.
    So what? She has nipples we all do, whoop de doo.

    • original kay says:

      Body shaming isn’t always about ugly vs pretty.
      in this case, it’s shaming her body for the natural way it looks, while she is WORKING, and her body has absolutely nothing to do with it.
      Damn right it’s shaming her for being who she is, while she is doing her job.

      • Giest says:

        I don’t agree. I think it’s people just being nit picky, but whatever.
        I understand your point.
        I feel like everything is called “X” shaming now a days.

      • original kay says:

        I agree with you there, people do jump on absolutely everything.

        In this case I think it is trying to shame her for being who she is though :)

    • Veronica says:

      People were complaining to the BBC, though, which does smack of misogyny. It shouldn’t have been an issue, but apparently a woman’s body parts are upsetting.

  8. Pinky says:

    I love that she’s got big girls and still is the best. I hope it can inspire others who have fretted about the size of theirs (obviously, if they’re causing back issues or pain, it’s another story).

    She is epic.

    And, yeah. Some of the me. Have niples like darts–like miniature traffic cones. Or pick their butts. I just divert my eyes and move on to enjoy the games!


  9. meme says:

    I wouldn’t call it shaming; I’d call it being so prudish that people can’t deal with nipples.

    • sauvage says:

      I think the fact that people are actually complaining about it to the BBC makes it a veritable body shaming issue. They are complaining about Serena being a woman, basically, with lady parts. That’s sexist, misogynist, and the fact that people keep complaining about Serena Williams’s body on various occasions (last year’s whole “Why can’t she look more like a GIRL?” crap comes to mind) makes me supect that there is a racist component to this as well.

      There you have an incredible athlete, who has been an incredible athlete for a LONG time now. Usually, that’s something to be praised. Unfortunately, this insane amount of talent, and dedication, and will-power – fell on a black woman, which means a certain kind of person are grabbing at every chance they see to discredit her. Since she is f***ing amazing at what she does, they go for her looks. See: a muscular professional athlete. Shocking, I know. And now it turns out, she’s female, too! Hence, let’s criticise her for having nipples, since they cannot criticise her game. That’ll put that BLACK WOMAN in her place!

      Instead, she just goes on being amazing.

  10. Lilacflowers says:

    Watched her match on Monday when, after a shaky start, she annihilated her opponent. I was in awe and didn’t notice nipples

  11. QQ says:

    *eyeroll* Stay Reaching far and wide for sh*t to hate about Serena… might need a back brace and sh*t… actually I cant do this today

  12. Marceldeux says:

    People body shame Serena because A) she’s a woman and B) people are racists that can’t stand black excellence at Serena’s level. Don’t for one second tell me the complaints don’t carry some very racist undertones.

    Serena is awesome. I love that her best revenge to all her critics has always been winning. Not just a win here or there, but literally the most winning female of all time. Shove that tennis ball up your as*s’s, haters.

    Good luck Serena on your 22nd Grandslam!!

  13. lucy2 says:

    Gasp! A human being has nipples. Who the F cares? She’s kicking ass.
    Why is it described as a “see through” top? You can’t see through it at all.

    • Flowerchild says:

      Lol yes the Daily Fail has no idea what a see through top is 😂😂😂 I read that and was like what top are they talking about.

  14. HeyThere! says:

    Wow, there are thousands of young girls and woman being sold like cattle in the Middle East as sex slaves…..but let’s boycott SW nipples! What the actual hell!? This is what’s wrong with the world. The world makes silly things the ‘big issue’.

  15. Bex says:

    Her performance today was awe-inspiring. She also looks amazing in those photos.

  16. AV says:

    I remember a woman on the street angrily telling me “she could see my nipples”. I was wearing a bra and a nipple shield of sorts – not that I should need to. WTF?

  17. Margo S. says:

    So many sexist people out there. It’s not OK to act like that anymore. People are getting sick of it.

  18. Gardenia says:

    I love her. <3 Extraordinary woman and athlete. Who gives a fig about nipples.

    On a superficial note, she looks so pretty in the two piece white ensemble. Wow! I wish I looked so fit and strong, and that fuchsia lipstick color is striking on her.

  19. Karen says:

    I can see Greg Rusedski’s too….

    …someone call the twitter police on him too!!

    Really people? Everyone has them.

  20. joanne maas says:

    she is the greatest. she is also an incredible beautiful woman. i am in awe of her.

  21. Sam says:

    People presume she isn’t wearing a bra or something. But she probably is – maybe it’s just not super-padded. If she’s in the middle of a match, she’s probably hyped on adrenaline, and adrenaline will make your nips stand up. It’s happened to me. And this might be TMI, but not all bras hide it. Some of us have nips that could cut glass at times. Nobody’s fault.

  22. Colette says:

    Congrats on making it to the Finals again.

  23. Bluesky says:

    Ok these people clearly don’t work out like I do because this happens all the time to me. Unfortunately no matter how good of a sports bra you are wearing, the headlights end up shining anyway. I am so sick of people placing such unrealistic standards on Serena. She can’t control that!

  24. Thaisajs says:

    That’s so ridiculous. Who’s looking at her chest during a tennis match? I seriously doubt Serena is going to care about this “controversy” at all.

  25. Ali says:

    Serena pisses off so many people. I love it because the best revenge is success.

    Why are people so afraid of a woman’s breasts? I can’t wrap my head around it.

    I can’t wait to breast feed. There will be some very uncomfortable citizens around me. And trust me, they do not want it with me because I have about 20 retorts eagerly ready to use.

    • rapomi says:

      I find it so sad that women’s bodies have become so ‘sexualized’ that some people forget that they are actually there to serve a purpose!! The outrage over breastfeeding in public is something I can honestly say I will never ever understand. The fact that nipples got people so riled up that they took time to complain is ridiculous.

  26. Lucy says:

    The fact that they’re actually accusing her of “flashing” them, as if she had lifted up her top and gone “hey y’all, check these out!” is probably the most ridiculous thing out of all this. I hope she ignores this nonsense.

  27. Fancyamazon says:

    I just want to know why the focus is on Serena. I don’t follow tennis. At all. I saw about ten minutes of Wimbledon in a waiting room. A ladies match. There were nipples showing on both of those girls. My hubby pointed it out to me. He said, “the cameraman is having a time.” So she isn’t the only one. And I dunno why it’s so controversial. Everyone knows we all have them.

  28. Samtha says:

    Damn, she looks good in that bottom pic!

    It’s ironic, though. These same people bitch about Serena “looking like a man” because of her musculature. Then they can’t handle nipples? Please.

  29. Lady D says:

    Stunning athlete and amazing role model for girls. Killer body, insanely gorgeous, smart as a whip, and an excellent motivator.

  30. KiddVicious says:

    She’s an amazing human being. I think I may have a girl crush.

  31. TOPgirl says:

    What happened to her face? did she get a face lift?

  32. Almondjoy says:

    Seriously??? Women have nipples. HUMANS have nipples. I can’t even believe idiots made a huge deal about this. What year is this again??

    On another note, she looks bangin in that white outfit! It’s really simple but that purple lippie makes it pop 😍

    • I Choose Me says:

      Yas! She looks so freaking fine in that pic. Love that shade of lipstick on her and I would kill to have her abs and be so junoesque.

      The nipple ish is downright silly.

  33. notsoanonymous says:

    Serena is everything. She’s a boss tennis goddess and carries herself with more deserved confidence than anyone else in modern female sports. I adore her.

  34. Craig says:

    Viewers complained to the BBC? Don’t these people have anything better to do.

    Serena is amazing–her Vogue cover last winter was the best cover in years and she looked gorgeous.

    Top 5 player Simona Halep had breast reduction surgery a few years back which she said has aided her mobility, and she is constantly, still being asked about it in her interviews……I think at the US Open last year she said she was not going to talk about it anymore, I mean I was embarrassed for her…..she’d win matches and the press only wanted to talk about her breasts.

    I wonder if the press will ask Serena about nipple-gate, I hope they do and she slams them

  35. The Original Mia says:

    Oh, my God! She has nipples. NIPPLES! Did no one else know this until this year? Can all those pearl clutching nellies have a stadium full of seats and shut their traps? If all they can think about when watching a tennis match is a woman’s nipples, then I believe its their problem, not Serena’s.

  36. Alarmjaguar says:

    Are you f-ing kidding me!?

  37. ClaireB says:

    I’m not a huge fan of Serena as a person so much, but as an athlete she is spectacular. I hate that she is a lightning rod for the racism and misogyny in sports today. I’ve got small girls and am happy with that, but I have the same headlight problem she’s got, and there’s not much you can do about it. When I was breastfeeding, mine shone through my nursing bra and the thick, washable nursing pads I used.

    I do look when the men get headlights, too, and think how uncomfortable I’d be with a loose shirt rubbing around on them! I feel sorry for them, but I guess they’re used to it and don’t notice.

  38. helen says:

    Padded sports bras are sponges for sweat. So disgusting!!

  39. Veronica says:

    Unless I’m wearing one of my hardcore VSX bras, I frequently get visible nipple while wearing sports bras. They’re a lighter, more absorbent material and cling tightly to the bust for compression – factors that mean they’re inevitably going to show a little, especially if you’re really busty. And it’s NEVER BEEN AN ISSUE IN MY LIFE. They’re boobs, all women have them. They’re nipples, EVERYBODY has them. People need to grow the hell up.

  40. ReignbowGirl says:

    It seems to me that the best counter to this ridiculous and offensive kerfuffle is to loudly voice complaints on Twitter and to the broadcaster when men’s nipples are visible. Sauce for the goose and all that.

  41. megs283 says:

    Is there a female version of Michelangelo’s David? Because that’s what I thought of in that tweet above. She is STRONG and a perfect form!!! Do these whiners avoid classic pieces of art? Because there’s a hell of a lot of nipples in museums.

    • senna says:

      I agree – Serena is totally #body-goals for those of us who are muscular (instead of lithe) women. I was just thinking that it’s so great we have an example of a world-class female athlete, probably the best female tennis player of all time, who is so fit and so powerful-looking. There’s so many examples of sporty ectomorphs that it’s refreshing to see someone break the mold who could not be more successful at her sport.

  42. senna says:

    Yeah, especially with the mandatory all-white ensembles of Wimbledon, visible nipples will be a thing that happens. Has anyone recommending a “better sports bra” to Serena ever actually worn a thick padded sports bra? Those things are damned uncomfortable because they are so hot. If I’m not doing a workout that demands a lot of jumping up and down, I will just go for the double or single-layer sports bra under a workout tank instead of a thickly padded running bra, and sometimes this means my nipples are visible. But putting in the extra padding is so hot and sweaty that I would rather be comfortable vs. worrying about what other people think. I suspect it’s the same for Serena.

  43. kri says:

    How can I say this delicately…big f*cking deal. OH NO A WOMAN HAS NIPPLES!!!!!!!!!!! I just can’t believe they let her off this easy. Come on-where are the skirt length remarks? Or maybe something about her muscles? Oooh, I know-is that her hair?! Must she wear it like that?? Why does she have to look so…black??!?!? GET OVER IT A$$HOLES< SHE IS A QUEEN OKAY! Rant over.

  44. Melody says:

    Male Olympic athletes are always getting boners on the medal stand – Nike, get on that.

  45. leidub311 says:

    Holy crap, a woman has nipples on her breasts?!?! Oh, the shock & horror (I write as I breastfeed). What year is it again?

  46. Feebee says:

    The complainants are probably the same ones who voted for Brexit for the wrong reasons.

    If she wears the bras she endorses – Berlei (Australia) then she is wearing a sports bra and a bloody good one. But there’s only so much it can do. Besides they can’t actually see nipples, so they’re getting hysterical about an outline FFS.

  47. Maitribb says:

    Uhhh I have to wear pads on my nippes whenever I wear a polo shirt, or else they’re painfully obvious, and sometimes even that doesn’t help. Some women’s are just more noticeable.

  48. helena says:

    sexism, sexism all over the place. her nipples are scandalous. women’s camel toes are scandalous. women are expected to hide their body so men wouldn’t be tempted. and yet, men walk around without shirts and their nipples are okay. why? a social construct. a sexist construct. women are being sexualized and men aren’t. women are seen as sexual objects, objects of desire of men. and men as actual persons. so, I hate all this crap.

  49. jferber says:

    Absolutely right, Helena. I think Serena looks magnificent! I love her in the white outfit with the fuschia lipstick. If any woman gets “too big for her britches,” she can always be nipple-shamed–do you hear me, Donald Trump?

  50. Nikki says:

    I am 60 years old, and THOUGHT I was pretty prudish about modesty, but I find Nipplegate absolutely ridiculous. Well actually, I find it more serious than ridiculous, because I think the viewer’so disapproval comes from sexism and racism. Farrah Fawcett, asked about the appeal of her record selling poster, smiled
    and simply said, “Nipples”. And Jaqueline Bisset’s nipples featured in a wet T-shirt on the movie poster sold all the seats for the movie “The Deep”. But let a strong, powerful black woman show nipples, and that’s unacceptable?! Screw her detractors; she’s a gorgeous woman and I hope she (and each of you) is PROUD of her nipples. Really folks, we all need to be vocal responding to this kind of idiocy if the world is going to change.