Wimbledon growing up was a family tradition. For as long as I can remember we would all sit together and watch the matches on Centre Court. That invariably meant watching Serena Williams play (I say play but I mean win).
She is a record breaking, hip shaking phenomenal talent. She holds 23 Grand Slam singles titles, the most Major wins by a tennis player in the Open Era (which is when Grand Slam tournaments agreed to allow professional players to compete with amateurs). Serena is the only tennis player to have won 10 Grand Slam singles titles in two separate decades and holds the Open Era record for most titles won at the Australian Open (7), having won most recently just this year. She also holds an all-time record for the most singles matches won at the Grand Slams with 316 matches as well as an 85% win rate throughout her career.
Whereas I am only scratching the surface of her brilliance and dominance professionally, personally it appears she is also finding success as she recently announced her engagement to Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian as well as her 20-week pregnancy. With the achievements she has accomplished and good things happening for her you might be puzzled as to why I ask can we just leave her alone?
It was actually my godfather that alerted me to a news story where a Romanian Fed Cup captain and former world No.1 Illie Nastase said of Serena’s unborn child, “Let’s see what colour it has. Chocolate with milk?” Unfortunately, racism like this has followed her career, she famously boycotted the Indian Wells Masters event for 14 years after being repeatedly called a “nigger” and told by one man “I wish it was ’75; we’d skin you alive.” I remember watching her play Justine Henin-Hardenne in the 2003 French Open Semifinals and enduring nearly the entire crowd at Roland Garros cheer at her loss. Even at my young age I could feel the racist undertones as they jeered and laughed at her and it made my blood boil.
You would think she would be defended by throngs of people, especially as she has used her platform many times to speak out about injustice, like when she spoke about police brutality and her fears for her 18-year-old nephew or when she publicly backed the Black Lives Matter movement.
But you’d be wrong as they are too busy calling her a man, explaining how scientifically her pregnancy didn’t affect her athletic performance (who asked that question?) or complaining about how she is selling out her race. Classically, here we have a strong black woman known to support people with seemingly no-one supporting her. If she were to speak out on any of the numerous ridiculous things, like people likening her to an animal, she would be denigrated as an angry black woman (she just can’t win, except for tennis – she wins all the time). These attacks are conspicuously from white as well as black commentators with her recent engagement further compounding this while adding a layer of irony.
As one ‘astute’ social media user lamented “how did we lose this one” we see in the comments of the above Instagram post another user proclaim she was born a boy. You simply can’t have your cake and eat it too.
(But real quick, she has dated successful individuals like Drake and Common and is very successful herself, yet you are wondering why she isn’t blowing up your phone as you probably sit at home, tweeting about her #dontplayyourself)
We didn’t lose this one, she chose because she like every woman has agency and free will to be with someone she wants to be with and she now also has an added bundle of joy arriving in the near future, so it’s a win-win for her (and she’s savvy so she could always negotiate a Janet deal 🤑 #issajoke)
My point is too often successful women are seen as intimidating and black women in particular as more masculine and less in need of help and support than their white counterparts. So I stand with Serena and say I will not stand for the denigration of her body or the body of any other black woman as they are to be respected, loved and protected especially when carrying a child. So I reiterate, leave Serena be and in closing for all the trolls out there…
Peace and Love,
Aharoun the Author
(P.s. this is my 10th post so it’s a celebration🎉🎊, enjoy yourself! If you enjoy my sense of humor and would like to see where I get inspiration from or give me some follow me on Twitter.)