Serena Williams' magazine cover sparks controversy

Published: November 13, 2018
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PHOTO: GQ/TWITTER

PHOTO: GQ/TWITTER

Tennis star Serena Williams just made it to GQ Magazine’s yearly cover but not everyone is liking it.

This is the second consecutive year, the publication has chosen a woman to grace its ‘Men of the Year’ edition. Gal Gadot was its face last year. However, GQ‘s decision to use quotation marks for the word “woman” on Williams’ cover has led to quite a debate on the internet.

The first three stars to grace the magazine covers were Michael B Jordan, Henry Golding and Jonah Hill respectively. The tennis superstar was its fourth.

As soon as the covers were unveiled, one question was asked repeatedly. Why is ‘woman’ written in quotes?

“Okay but why is woman in quotation marks,” wrote one user.

“I can’t believe no one at GQ thought perhaps with misogynistic and violent trans insults that Serena (and Venus) have dealt with for the last almost 20 years, to not put woman in quotation marks. Editorial rooms are a disaster, all over this country. I’m offended for her,” wrote another one.

Some compared Serena’s cover to the Wonder Woman star’s, whose cover wasn’t changed and went as Men of the Year.

However, what many later pointed out was how Virgil Abloh, a famous Louis Vuitton designer, who apparently changed Serena’s title on the cover, usually wrote.

“Because it was handwritten by Virgil Abloh of Off-White, who has styled everything in quotation marks as of late (see Serena’s US Open apparel that he designed),” a user said.

“It quite literally has tags/quotations around it because that’s Virgil’s own style/branding, including in his partnership with Nike and Serena herself. That’s the only “message” behind it,” the user went on.

Soon after his comment, others came forward, calling controversy baseless.

“It’s so offensive it made me melt and I had to sit in a bucket until I was better. Has anyone contacted the United Nations about this?” penned a user.

“The fact you’ve taken offense to this without researching and finding out there is a perfectly reasonable explanation to it just makes my head hurt,” commented one user.

However, one Twitter user mirrored our thoughts perfectly.

“I get the Virgil Abloh reference but that quotation around woman is weird and totally uncalled for,” he wrote

Perhaps what caused the outrage was how Serena has been criticised in the past for not being “womanly”.

Last year, Williams penned an emotional letter on Reddit in which she gave an insight on what she has been dealing with since the age of 15.

I’ve been called man because I appeared outwardly strong. It has been said that that I use drugs (No, I have always had far too much integrity to behave dishonestly in order to gain an advantage). It has been said I don’t belong in Women’s sports — that I belong in Men’s — because I look stronger than many other women do. (No, I just work hard and I was born with this badass body and proud of it).”

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