The Sexist Double Standard of Serena Williams’ Penalty
Serena Williams is a force to be reckoned with. The tennis phenom has been breaking records and taking the tennis world by force. Her name has filled newspaper headlines for years but this time the headlines are maligning her most recent actions. Actions that led to a $17,000 fine from her most recent loss at the U.S. Open. Her actions were described as a “temper tantrum”and “a meltdown”. She was mocked and taunted in the media. But was she talked about in these terms because she actually deserved it or was it because she was a woman?
The women’s final ended in with a emotional ending for both Williams and her opponent, Naomi Osaka. Williams got into a dispute with the umpire over scoring penalties. She received a verbal warning about receiving coaching on the sidelines. William challenged that call. She then broke her racket in frustration over losing a gamed she was penalized another point. Williams called him a “thief” and she was penalized an entire game for verbal abuse.
Both during and after the match, Williams called out the umpire’s behavior as a double standard. She pointed out men tennis players have been allowed to get away with behavior far worse than what she displayed during her match and she has had people come to her defense to back up her opinion. People like tennis legend Billie Jean King, have come come to Williams defense. She articulated that she firmly believed that if Williams was a man, she would not have been penalized. She had this to say,
“[F]or [Williams], and for many other women who have experienced an abuse of power at their workplaces, there was more at stake.
Did Ramos treat Williams differently than male players have been treated? I think he did. Women are treated differently in most arenas of life. This is especially true for women of color. And what played out on the court yesterday happens far too often. It happens in sports, in the office and in public service. Ultimately, a woman was penalized for standing up for herself. A woman faced down sexism, and the match went on.”
But the humiliation of Williams didn’t stop with her being described as a temper tantrum toddler in the media, the ultimate insult was when an Australian newspaper printed a cartoon of Williams as a racist trope designed to undercut her as a woman, an athlete and an African American. A recent Vox article by Michelle Garcia, pointed out the Williams has been a constant target of these types of attacks. The article states that the, “cartoon is a literal illustration of the way society is quick to degrade women — and black women in particular — when they don’t fall in line with the ways women are “supposed” to act. Not only is Williams depicted as a petulant toddler for having spoken up about what she felt was a sexist call, but also as a hulking, animal-like brute.”
What Serena William’s has experienced is downright wrong. There are many examples of men, like John McEnroe, throwing epic temper tantrums and not getting penalized. The hypocrisy is rampant and unfortunately Williams has been the target over and over again.
Regardless of her deserving or not deserving the penalties, the media depiction and portrayal of Williams has been disgusting. These consistent sexist and racist attacks are becoming tiresome and frankly embarrassing. It’s time to move on. Serena William is and will continue to be an amazing athlete. It’s time to treat her that way.