No way that American Pharoah trumps the American queen, Serena Williams
When word came down that Sports Illustrated had – complete with displaying the winner seated in what could certainly be considered a throne – I smiled from the inside out. The woman deserves this.
And yet there are those who adamantly believe this year’s Kentucky Derby winner, American Pharaoh, , despite not being a person. WTF, people. To even have to dignify this with a response boggles the mind. Williams ; American Pharaoh but only had a streak of eight wins before .
Williams works hard, in a world stacked against her. The tennis world has been less than welcoming to her presence: ; there’s been constant insistence that despite clean tests, , than almost all of her competitors; and the has been unending. The Paper of Record even in which Williams’ competitors could only compare their bodies to hers; they certainly couldn’t compare records.
A public that struggles to respect female athletes for their ability often comes across as downright confused by Williams’ ability to dominate but has still had little to no choice but to take notice of her success and accomplishments. At age 34, 69 total career titles, has won more than 85% of her total matches and earned a total of $74m in prize money over the course of her career.
She is number one. Any woman who works as hard as she does, defying criticism of both a racist and sexist nature, should be.
But the criticism was rough on her.
In about playing at a tournament where she and her family were harangued by an unforgiving crowd that accused her and Venus of fixing a match in Serena’s favor and booed and allegedly lobbed racial slurs, Williams wrote, “When I was booed at Indian Wells – by what seemed like the whole world – my voice of doubt became real. I didn’t understand what was going on in that moment. But worse, I had no desire to even win.”
In about a heckler who was bounced from her match at the Sony Open, Williams recounted, “The guy said, ‘Hit the net like any Negro would!’ I was shocked. … I couldn’t believe it. I had to do a double take. I think I hit a double fault on that point.”
In an article that may very well live on in infamy, how Williams could be as sexy as Beyoncé, but “Instead, Serena is arguably pushing 175 pounds, content playing hard only in the major tournaments, happy to be photographed on dates with pro athletes and proud to serve as a role model for women with oversized back packs.”
Because that’s what matters.
In addition to her accomplishments and despite the kind of racist and sexist criticism that might lead anyone to turn her back on humanity, Williams’ commitment to her global community is impressive. She has bankrolled the creation of schools in Kenya, in an attempt to combat the cyclical poverty that comes from girls dropping out of school and marrying by the time puberty arrives. She even – although did not complete the run herself – created to raise money for the Serena Williams Fund, which helps “individuals and communities affected by senseless violence, and promoting equal access to education.” Williams has also raised six figures for the Equal Justice Initiative and even served as , dedicated to discussing equality.
is a national treasure. She is consistently giving of herself to others, learning, growing, performing and excelling – and doing it now at an age that many others struggle to just stay in shape and have any work-life balance. She empowers women and girls across the globe, and inspires the ones in her very own native Compton.
She deserves so much more than she earns, and we give her so much less than we should. She is the hero we need and the hero we don’t deserve, all at the same time.