I’d like to begin this post with a preface for my readers who, like me, do not follow sports news very closely:
Here’s a little bit about Serena Williams*:
She is the most recent player, male or female, to hold all four Grand Slam singles titles simultaneously. She is also the only active female player to have won all four Grand Slam tournaments during her career (one French Open, three Wimbledon, four Australian and three US Opens).
She also has won more Grand Slams than any other active female player.
Additionally, Williams has won more career prize money than any other female athlete in history.
According to Whitlock, “With a reduction in glut, a little less butt and a smidgen more guts, Serena Williams would easily be as big as Michael Jackson, dwarf Tiger Woods and take a run at Rosa Parks.” He wrote a whole article but this one sentence sums up his point pretty well: according to Whitlock Serena Williams is not attractive enough to be a really good tennis player and, as a result of this, she deserves to have her body publicly commented upon and shamed, presumably in the hopes that this shame will ‘inspire’ her to lose weight.
He hides his judgments about her appearance, as people seem to always do, underneath the thin veneer of health and physical prowess. Observe:
“[Serena would] rather eat, half-ass her way through non-major tournaments and complain she’s not getting the respect her 11-major-championships résumé demands. She complains about being ranked No. 2 in the world when she’s not bitching on Twitter or her blog about new rules that forbid Wimbledon players from eating in the locker room. Seriously, how else can Serena fill out her size 16 shorts without grazing at her stall between matches?”
Okay, so, he didn’t hide it well. What we’re supposed to get from this paragraph is that Serena is lazy and disgusting because she appears to (gasp) enjoy eating and would maybe like to be able to eat between matches… I can’t imagine why any athlete would want to eat after a physically exhausting match, can you? I mean, its not like food would give her energy to play the next match or anything.
The Wimbledon rule may or may not make sense (there are places where players can eat between matches and certain foods are available in the locker room, the simply do not allow food from outside to be brought in) but Whitlock’s reaction to William’s complaints about this rule are telling. Lets look at exactly what he said:
“…bitching on Twitter or her blog about new rules that forbid Wimbledon players from eating in the locker room. Seriously, how else can Serena fill out her size 16 shorts without grazing at her stall between matches”
Okay, so, from the top.
“bitching”: this word alone sends off warning signs in my head, warning that there is misogyny ahead. Bitch is a highly gendered insult, obviously associated with females; men are rarely accused of bitching (rather they complain, debate, or take issue with something) while women are often so accused; furthermore whenever anyone [male or female] is accused of “bitching” about something the word is used to imply that their complaints are unreasonable, petty… you get the picture. Whitlock is invalidating William’s complaints with one word.
“rules that forbid Wimbledon players from eating in the locker room”: I don’t want to sound vain but, um, apparently I’m a better journalist than Whitlock because I at least took the time to understand the situation. Williams is not complaining about food being banned from the locker rooms all together, rather she is complaining that they cannot eat anything in the locker rooms except for the fruit and heath bars supplied there. Furthermore, I can understand her complaint as Wimbledon officials claim the rule is in place “so they are not having to change among excess food and cartons and whatnot.” I can understand that sentiment, but in that case; why allow any food at all? Powerbar wrappers and fruit peels, cores, etc. all make messes too – if you can trust tennis players to throw away those pieces of trash, why not trust them to throw away other pieces of trash?
“how else can Serena fill out her size 16 shorts”: This, obviously, was meant for shock value, as in: look how fat Serena is, she doesn’t deserve our respect… fortunately most readers are smarter than Mr. Whitlock. First of all, where did he get this number? I spent quite a bit of time trying to find his source with zero success, no mention of Serena’s dress size anywhere. I’m not surprised. Considering how varied the patterns used in women’s clothing are very few women even have a size. Rather, most women have a range of sizes that changes based upon the garment and the manufacturer. Between this and his confusion about the locker-room situation I’m not sure how I can trust anything this man says.
“without grazing at her stall between matches”: The word grazing here really makes me mad. Grazing is, without a doubt, most often used to describe animals – perhaps a heard of cows or sheep grazing in the field? In this context it evokes a comparison that it is all to obvious Whitlock was trying to make; calling Williams a fat cow without actually using the words is impressive… Whitlock has somehow mastered the role of ‘pompous jerk’ while somehow missing out on most of the skills that go along with being a competent journalist (like fact checking, for one!)