The Serena Phenomenon

22 / 09 / 2015

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Once again, Sheilas regular Culture Club contributor Karen Pickering, of Cherchez la Femme delivers a ripper article on the phenomenon that is Serena Williams and the double standards and criticisms she faces as a sports superstar, and a woman. 

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I came to the Serena Williams phenomenon a little late, or rather in stages. I remember her and Venus exploding into the tennis arena and the sporting consciousness with their powerful serves, flawless techniques and unmistakable style. And then they just became part of the firmament. The Williams sisters won match after match, tournament after tournament, breaking records and taking names. I began to take them for granted. Then fairly recently I started taking notice of Serena again.

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Growing up with heroes like Martina Navratilova and Steffi Graf stalking the women’s competition I was hardly a stranger to a powerful presence taking on all comers and besting them. But still it took me a shamefully long time to realise that Serena was more than a tennis player, she was also a cultural phenomenon. Serena is a singular figure, almost certainly one of the greatest athletes of all time, and utterly without peer in the current tennis landscape. But people don’t like her, and it’s worth us thinking about why.

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Serena Williams doesn’t just win, she obliterates opponents and maintains a huge distance between herself and her closest rivals. Because she makes no apology for this, she is accused of being obnoxious. She is as incapable of small talk as she is of false modesty, and while this would be celebrated as steely determination in a male player, it is dismissed as arrogance in Serena. As long as women are punished for being “unlikeable” we are placing unfair expectations on them and holding them back.

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She wears whatever she wants (including $40 000 earrings the US Open)  and is called a ‘showpony’, a ‘slut’, ‘vain’, and is accused of bringing the game into disrepute. A sport that has been dominated by not only men but the upper classes has finally had its gates busted in by a black woman from Compton, East L.A. and it responds by questioning her outfits. Talk about a country club mentality – the same clubs that wouldn’t allow black members until relatively recently.

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She speaks her mind, whether it’s the slightly unedifying display of telling a line judge to eat a ball (I paraphrase)  or explaining to rude and repetitive reporters that she’s not in the mood for their garbage, Serena aims straight and true. For this she is labelled an ‘angry black woman’, ‘ungrateful’ and ‘a brat’.

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quale app per trading online demo She is routinely characterised as lacking humility, being a sore loser, and of having no sense of humour. The solution to this would presumably involve being “nicer”, smiling when she loses and cracking the kind of jokes middle-aged white men/sports journalists find funny.

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Tastylia Supplier One of the most toxic cultural commentaries around Serena Williams involves her body and subjecting it to shame, critique and suggestions she is masculine, male, abusing steroids, or simply, not attractive. I refuse to participate in a defence of her body as beautiful, powerful and feminine because that is absolutely immaterial to her athleticism and value. I will say though that a strong black female body representing in the public sphere must be a balm for women, girls and yes, men of colour, for its reminder that it’s not only thin, white women who are beautiful.

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binární opce zdarma But for all these challenges, and there are many others, Serena has excelled and cemented her place in the pantheon of sporting history as the kind of champion who is undeniable. And thinking back for a moment to those other greats of the modern era – Evert, Graf, Navratilova – and to those of the men’s game – Sampras, Federer, Agassi, McEnroe – none of them had to scale the heights of professional tennis while being black and female. That still puts you at the intersection of serious disadvantage in the US, and Serena (along with her sister, Venus) defied those odds and then some.

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مواقع الخيارات الثنائية لم تستخدم باي بال So even if you don’t care for tennis, Serena Williams is worth your attention. Her presence, her commitment, her relentless pursuit of “black excellence” all mark her out as an extraordinary lightning rod for so many conversations we desperately need to have: valuing women in sport, America’s problem with race, respectability politics, intersectional feminism and society’s need to police women’s bodies.

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