Posted on Jul 10, 2012 By admin
Over the past two years Serena Williams has battled a life-threatening illness, depression, two surgeries and has had to overcome both physical and mental hurdles to make a comeback as a champion. "I definitely have not been happy...Especially when I had that second surgery (on my foot), I was definitely depressed. I cried all the time. I was miserable to be around," she said in 2011.
But she But as David Leonard, associate professor of in the Department of Critical Culture, Gender and Race Studies at Washington State University, astutely observes, her triumph is marred by hateful, sexist and racists comments, making her return bittersweet. He provides this guest post on NewBlackman.com:
Within a culture that thrives on stories of redemption, that celebrates resilience and determination, the career of Serena Williams reads like a Hollywood screenplay. Yet, her career has been one marred by the politics of hate, the politics of racism and sexism. Last year I wrote about the treatment she has faced from fans and media alike:
What is striking about the comments and several of the commentaries as well, is the demonization of Serena Williams. Focusing on her body (reinforced by the many pictures that sexualize Williams), her attitude, and her shortcomings as a player, the responses pathologize Williams. "The Williams sisters have been criticized for lacking 'commitment' by refusing to conform to the Spartan training regime of professional tennis, restricting their playing schedules, having too many ‘off-court interests’ in acting, music, product endorsements, fashion and interior design, and their Jehovah’s Witness religion” (McKay and Johnson).…
"The Williams sisters also have been subjected to the carping critical gaze that both structures and is a key discursive theme of ‘pornographic eroticism’," writes James McKay and Helen Johnson. Similarly, Delia Douglas argues, a “particular version of blackness” is advanced within the representations of the Williams sisters. We see the “essentialist logic of racial difference, which has long sought to mark the black body as inherently different from other bodies. Characterizations of their style of play rely on ‘a very ancient grammar’ of black physicality to explain their athletic success”
This monumental victory also didn’t lead to a celebration, a coronation of the greatest player of her generation (and maybe in history), but instead more of the same. The story of redemption and the beauty of her game isn’t the story found throughout the cyber world, from twitter to the comment section of various sports websites.
Her victory prompted tweets referring to her by the “N Word” and several more about her body and sexuality. Reflecting an atmosphere of racist and sexist violence, of dehumanizing rhetoric, tweets referring to her as a gorilla flowed throughout cyberspace with great frequency (some of the below appeared over the last week).
· Today a giant gorilla escaped the zoo and won the womens title at Wimbledon... oh that was Serena Williams? My mistake.
· Serena Williams is a gorilla