The New York Times published a photo of Venus Williams in an article about Serena

Throughout this week, Serena Williams has been promoting her latest project, Serena Ventures. Serena has been in the venture-capital game for years, because she saw an opening. That opening: the lack of start-up money and venture capital going to women of color. So that’s what Serena Ventures is all about, funding businesses founded by women of color, and/or businesses which serve diversity. Her inaugural fund has raised $111 million and she’s been promoting it all week, as I said. She’s been giving interviews to CNBC, Bloomberg and the New York Times. The New York Times’s piece landed on the front page of their Business section. When Serena looked at the print edition of the Times, she noticed something awful: the Times used a photo of her older sister Venus Williams in the article and identified Venus as “Serena.”

In case you can’t see that, I cropped the photo:

This is wrong. This is racist. Serena has every right to be upset. She’s truly going on CNBC to talk about how important it is to bring more diversity into the business world and the Business section of the PAPER OF RECORD just threw up a photo of Venus? Can we f–king not? A huge part of this is obviously racism, but there’s another part of it which is just sloppy editorial work. How many people double-checked this at the Times?

PS… Not only that, I’m offended by “Tennis Star” instead of her name in the headline too. Serena is famous enough to be identified by her g–damn name in a New York Times headline!!

Photos courtesy of Avalon Red, Serena’s social media.

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61 Responses to “The New York Times published a photo of Venus Williams in an article about Serena”

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  1. Nev says:

    This is Wack.

  2. Chic says:

    All black folks look alike. It’s the bane of our existence!🤯🤯

    • Wiglet Watcher says:

      I get told regularly as a white woman I look like someone else by people I’ve never met in places I’ve never been before. That is annoying enough (and racist). But to mistake Serena for her work of lifting those that others passed over and then crediting her sister with the photo must be so frustrating.
      There’s still such a long way to go.

      • Mac says:

        There is a world of difference between being told you look like someone and being denied your identity. NYT couldn’t be bothered to make sure they had the correct photo of Serena. That’s the real racism.

      • YaGotMe says:

        No, someone telling you that you look like their white cousin Susan isn’t racism.
        That is also part of the erasure, as a white woman there is no way I can look at this situation and think “oh, I know how you feel”…we don’t. It’s time to listen.

      • Emma says:

        “As a white woman” — that’s not racism. I’m sure it’s annoying but it’s not racism.

      • Tee says:

        That is not racist, that is just a coincidence that happens to everyone. Black people, however, are routinely denied our individuality by this country and its embedded systemic racism. You don’t get to come into a Black person’s comment and talk over their lived experience in some misplaced solidarity. Like @YaGotMe said, that’s erasure.
        You also have a long way to go.

    • whatWHAT? says:

      my goodness, whatever you do, DO NOT read the comments on the NYT facebook page (or, probably any of their social media).

      The number of “what’s the big deal, they look alike” and other COMPLETELY OUT OF TOUCH IGNORANCE was off the charts.

      this is the kind of thing I’d expect from Fox, but the NYT? oy.

      • GRACE says:

        Exactly! I wouldn’t expect this level of ignorance from NY Times readers who tend to be more progressive and informed.

      • Debbie says:

        I thought more people knew this but years ago, when they were going through a cash-crunch, a large share of the New York Times was purchased by conservatives. They knew of the NY Times’ stellar reputation and the trust they’d built with readers. These new owners exercise their power, not by flaunting it or yelling that there’s a new sheriff in town, but by printing Fox-like stories or right-leaning takes on news stories from time to time. That way they “influence” people while using the New York Times mantle. I believe it’s called infiltration.

      • Eurydice says:

        @Debbie – really? The NYT is owned by the The New York Times Company which is publicly traded. Carlos Slim is the largest shareholder, I think, but he was a donor to Hillary Clinton’s campaign. The board is pretty much all liberal as is the editor. So who are the conservatives that own the NYT?

      • PixiePaperdoll says:

        The bit that is extra maddening about those commenters is that Venus and Serena don’t look that similar! This isn’t a Mary Kate vs Ashley Olson thing. Bah humbug!

  3. Rapunzel says:

    In the year 2022, there’s literally no excuse for this. Fricking Google image search can prevent this easily.

  4. BlueSky says:

    Just another example of how black women are constantly “othered” I remember someone who would call me by another black woman’s name that I worked with. We looked nothing alike and my name was on my f@cking badge. Venus and Serena are sisters but you can absolutely f@cking tell them apart.

  5. Seaflower says:


  6. C-Shell says:

    This is breathtakingly bad. The NYT has lost all credibility many times over the past years. Their editorial staff is just incredibly incompetent. I hate this for Serena AND Venus, not to mention all the women Serena’s VC fund seeks to lift.

  7. North of Boston says:

    The combination of “tennis star” in the headline instead of her actual name and not publishing a photo of HER (her sister is close enough … it’s another black woman who would notice or care, right? /s) is a glaring sign of purposely dissing or just not giving 2 flying figs about bothering to report accurately on black women.

  8. hindulovegod says:

    They erased her name and her face in an article focused on her business success. It’s appalling and no, it’s not an accident. The Times has been trash for years but even I’m surprised by how low they sunk with this.

  9. Amy T says:

    Super sloppy and the racist component is real. Still, I flashed back to the time I flipped open a national magazine for which my sister and I both reviewed books while in line at the grocery store and did a double take when I saw my byline over a review of a book I hadn’t read.
    I close the magazine and put it back, trying to process what I’d seen. Then I called my sister and asked if she’d reviewed that book, and, indeed she had.
    So, cold comfort on the racism, but if V&S are anything like Debby and me, at least they got a laugh out of it.

    (Note: we’re both white and there’s no reason other than marginalization to refer to Serena as “a tennis star” in the context of being a venture capitalist.)

  10. Becks1 says:

    When I clicked through to the NYT site now, it lists her name in the headline and then “tennis star” in the sub-headline, so at least her name is first now.

    The picture though….wow. She’s one of the most famous athletes in the world, we watch basically no tennis except for a final here and there and my young boys still know who she is. There’s just no excuse. It’s racist and its lazy/sloppy.

  11. beff says:

    I was on my phone last night and couldn’t really tell it was Venus because I was so distracted by the headline calling the GOAT simply “tennis star”. My outrage exploded once I zoomed in…

  12. Cel2495 says:

    Wow that is messed up! This is the “ all black peoples look alike nonsense”. You can def tell Serena and Venus apart. Mind you they are both famous enough to stand on their own. This is simply disgusting.
    Ps: I been through this before , latest episode was when I was confused with another black lady and we look nothing alike. The woman is like 5 inches shorter than me, we have different complexions, my hair is longer , I am big boned and she is not. We look nothing alike and yet just because we both black I guess no one can bother treating us as individuals.

  13. Jais says:

    What the hell, seriously. I hope someone gets fired. For real.

  14. Amy Bee says:

    There are not enough black people in these newsrooms and especially at the level of editor to pick up these errors.

    • Commonwealthy+seemed+witty+at+first says:

      But… she’s Serena Williams, the top player (of any race or gender) in a majority white sport. This isn’t a case of a Black-famous celeb being misidentified by a majority-white newsroom.
      To be honest, I was initially struck by them not naming her in the headline. The picture of Venus just cemented the disregard of Serena’s huge accomplishment.

  15. KBeth says:

    Utterly appalling.

  16. GR says:

    In the year of our lord beyonce 2022

  17. Over it says:

    Clearly all of us black folks look the same

    • BK says:

      black people absolutely do not all look the same however Serena very much looks like her sister. They are related so it happens lol. That being said, it’s a huge oversight by the NYT and just absolute laziness that nobody caught this

  18. Merricat says:

    It’s not only racist, it’s sloppy, careless journalism. Unacceptable; I hope the responsible party is fired.

  19. Thelma says:

    Wow.. just wow. Poor standards much in the New York Times newsroom?

  20. girl_ninja says:

    The NYT continues to be trash. I remember back when that fool traitor Trump was relentlessly dissing them and they were getting folks to subscribe from the “abuse” they were receiving. It gave them a renewal of sorts and I was not down for it at all. They had Maggie Haberman in there, practically in bed with the Trump family. They are a trash publication and they prove it time and time again.

  21. TheOriginalMia says:

    I’ve given on up the NYT. They are horrible. It’s beyond unprofessional and racist to do a story on Serena’s venture capital fund and then put a picture of her sister in the story. The editorial board should be ashamed, but their standards are crap these days.

    Serena is doing amazing things these days outside of tennis. Really proud of both sisters.

  22. Athena says:

    They’ll blame it on an intern and nothing more will be done.

  23. LeonsMomma says:

    The editor in chief of the NYT is a black man, Dean Baquet.
    That said, he wouldn’t be looking at this, it is more like a majority white newsroom and page layout departments who messed this up massively.
    The NYT is sloppy—just wait until they airdrop a reporter into a comunitu, they get it all wrong, then you get attitude when correcting it.

  24. Fancyhat says:

    As a pasty white womanhood is not surprised by NYT’s racism or sexism, I’m still baffled how they got the sisters mixed up. They look so different from on another.

    On the other hand, I still can’t tell the difference between Christian Bale and Hugh Jackman. The Prestige broke my brain

    • Bettyrose says:

      But if it were your job to know the difference, you’d find a way.

    • Tara says:

      So glad to hear I’m not the only one with the Christian Bale/Hugh Jackman thing! The Prestige really did me in and I haven’t been the same since. Lol!

    • Veronica S. says:

      Face blindness is more common than people think, but like…this isn’t something that would be glanced at once and never again. Somebody had to search the image. Somebody had to crop the image. Somebody had to place it on the paper. Somebody had to put it to print. That’s A LOT of places where this should have been caught. Serena Williams is a high profile celebrity figure in the United States. The average person can probably identify her. This doesn’t happen unless a.) it’s intentional, b.) that editing room is unbelievably unprofessional and disorganized. At that point, why are people reading your paper?

      • bettyrose says:

        That’s the thing. It’s not whether a lay person might reasonably confuse the two of them. It’s that a professional publication has processes to ensure these mistakes don’t happen. It doesn’t feel accidental.

  25. lucy2 says:

    That’s insane. Both things, the wrong photo and referring to her as “tennis star” instead of Serena Williams, are bad enough on their own, but BOTH! Glad she called them on it.

    • Debbie says:

      Referring to Serena as “tennis star” in the headline of a story about HER accomplishment with the venture capital. What’s the point of doing the story if you’re going to be that effacing?

  26. jferber says:

    Inexcusable. The paper needs to issue an apology pronto.

  27. L4Frimaire says:

    Im glad Serena called this out. This was so amateur and disrespectful. They couldn’t even put her name in the headline and then use Venus’ picture. Did the Times even issue a correction or apology. This venture by Serena is a big deal and a big accomplishment, could be a game changer and also shows what her next steps will be post-tennis. It’s almost as if they had to snatch her joy and credibility. So many people saw this for what it is and are disgusted with the Times. Anyway, this is an amazing accomplishment and hope it yields many successful and profitable returns.

  28. AC says:

    Once again , they think we all look alike. Come on!

  29. Veronica S. says:

    LMAO, what a f*cking joke. I’ve known the NYT was misogynistic for awhile. I stopped reading their paper after they released an article about the gang rape of an young teen girl that interviewed only people sympathetic to the boys/men involved rather with not a word said in the girl’s defense. (Literally one of the few times I was so incensed that I fired off a letter to the editor over it.) Completely unsurprised that they take a dive into the misogynoir side of the pool on the regular, too.

    I mean, pick your poison here. Ignoring reporting standard to use recognizable names and calling her a “tennis player.” Shoving her article to the side of the business section. Using the wrong picture. Nice little cauldron of microaggressions stacked on top of each other, there.

  30. Liz version 700 says:

    This is gross beyond gross!

  31. mm2 says:

    Okay, I can see why Serena would personally be upset, but since I did work at the Washington Post for a while, and I know how this goes and I know this is not a popular opinion but the picture snafu is probably not because of racism. First, big media outlets like the Times and the Post are about as liberal and progressive of an employer as you are ever going to find, and as diversified in thought, race, and sex. Granted the upper management is full of white old crusty men, but they aren’t the ones who layout the paper or even looking at it to approve. One notable snafu when I was at the Post was front page big article on some WWII memorial, and we had the wrong date for end of WWII. We have had tons typos on names of world leader and wrong pictures a lot especially when the pictures are small and built in the article like that. That is usually done to fill the space and last minute too. Now it’s worse cause of layoffs at most major papers and you don’t have enough people proofing. I’m guessing the Williams photos were right next to each other in the electronic file and they just pulled up the wrong one. She has a right to be upset and she should say something, but I do want people to understand these type of employers are not like that, and I say this as a person of color too.

    That being said if they did say “Tennis star” instead of her name on the headline, well that’s pretty crappy, but keep in mind it is the business section and not the sports section, and the readers of the business section honestly may not know who she is real well. Now I want to say bravo to Serena though and her team for making this a PR coup and hopefully getting some more publicity for her organization for it. What a way to take lemons and make lemonade.

    • Cait says:

      White Liberals especially have racist blind spots because they feel immune to racism especially anti-black racism. Just cause they are not overt does not mean they do not have serious bias . The reason there is such outrage is because this happens to black women specifically far to often. They are striped of their personhood and individuality and reduced to thinly veiled stereotypes all over media. That is largely due to lily white writers and news rooms

    • Emma says:

      Microaggressions are part of racism. Unconscious bias is part of racism. Not being able to recognize two (WORLD famous for DECADES) Black women as individuals is part of racism. Comparing this to WWII and erasing the specific Black women involved is part of racism. Saying this is just a common typo (when it’s both an issue with the headline and with the picture!) is part of racism. Bending over backward to excuse this away is part of racism. Gaslighting over this when Serena Williams, a Black woman, has already told you the issue is part of racism.

      It’s racist. It’s misogynoir, specifically.

      • mm@ says:

        Wow first reading is fundamental!!!! I explained what I thought may have happened based on working at a similar paper. I gave a few examples of mistakes I remembered, not meant to be exact matches. I also know the people who layout pages in the “big city” papers are generally people of color or black, mainly cause it doesn’t pay as well and welcome to our black world. Pretty sure those employees aren’t caught up in institutional racism, just the usual, overworked and underpaid. I also know the editors don’t look over the paper after layout much and there just aren’t enough employees, since a lot have been rifed. If you care to discount my opinion based on my experience -fine. However, you know what I love, and I’d call it a bit more than a microagression, is when someone tells a black woman (me) what’s racism and strongly implies I should think this way because Serena Williams, another black woman, told me so. Forget about the fact she didn’t actually say that, but again reading is fundamental. You do know not all black people think the same right. Thanks for mansplaining racism to me.

    • Eurydice says:

      It’s a strange thing because the business editor of the NYT is a woman (she was the editor in chief of BusinessWeek), so is the editor of Sunday Business. They would absolutely know who Serena Williams is, and not just as an athlete – her venture fund has been written about before in business journals, like Forbes.

  32. Eggbert says:

    I mean she is so freakin famous you can just say Serena and everyone knows it’s Serena Williams. I wonder how many people at the newspaper ok’d the wrong pic and that headline before print, and I can’t imagine any of those those people to be anything but white men. SMH

  33. MaryBeary says:

    For goodness sake! I barely follow tennis and I know what Venus and Serena look like. NYTIMES, that is pathetic! On another note, the movie King Richard really good.

  34. BendyWindy says:

    Canceling my subscription now. 👍🏾

  35. robin says:

    why didn’t the times go ahead for the trifecta of arrogance and instead of “tennis star” referred to her as “Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian’s wife?” you know, since women are defined by their men folks.
    Serena and Venus transcend their sport. They have consistently been the bright spots for US tennis for years. For pity’s sake, comcast/xfinity uses Serena as Wonder Woman in a commercial that i see constantly.