The Serena Williams Body Image Debate

The Serena Williams Body Image Debate

New York Times blasted for article about tennis star's "muscular frame."

Published July 12, 2015

#SerenaSlam weekend didn't come without it's haters.

Serena Willams was pulled into an online feud about body image this weekend, as she celebrated her sixth win at the Wimbledon Finals. The New York Times posted an article that opened with a recap of Williams' recent appearance on the Home Shopping Network to promote her new clothing line. The focus: that she sometimes wears long sleeves to maintain a sense of privacy when she's not on the court. 

“My arms are really fit, but I wanted to cover them, because when I do people don’t recognize me as much,” she said.

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That one quote became a look at female tennis stars and how several of them have been outspoken about insecurities about body image. “I just feel unfeminine,” said German player Andrea Petkovic

“It’s our decision to keep her as the smallest player in the top 10,” said Tomasz Wiktorowski, coach of Polish player Agnieszka Radwanska, who is listed at 5 feet 8 and 123 pounds. “Because, first of all she’s a woman, and she wants to be a woman.”

In the Times' own language, Williams' physique, "large biceps and a mold-breaking muscular frame, which packs the power and athleticism that have dominated women’s tennis for years," is something that "her rivals could try to emulate," however, "most of them choose not to."

The tweets came pouring in immediately.

The uproar even reached Harry Potter author, J.K. Rowling, who shut down one troll with a message that's been favorited more than 100,000 times.

None of it got a rise out of Williams, however. Her social media perspective is clear. "This does not happen everyday or every year. I am so happy to hold this memorable trophy for the 6th time. #SerenaSlam 2.0 #renasarmy thanks for the love and support," she posted on her Instagram page alongside a pic of herself admiring her trophy.

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(Photo: Karwai Tang/WireImage)

Written by Chay Liberté

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