Monday, December 28, 2015

Serena Williams: Embodiment of Femininity, Strength and Power

Sports Illustrated choose tennis player Serena Williams as Sportsperson of the year, a recognition of her talent, determination and hard work that was long overdue. Serena in turn choose the image of herself posing on a throne for the cover of election issue. Such a bold, excellent choice makes me admire her even more.

serena williams on the cover of sports illustrated, sitting on a throne after she was voted sportsperson of the year 2015
A powerful image of Serena Williams. She is the embodiment of femininity, strength and power, no throne necessary. (Image: Sports Illustrated)

Despite being the best female athlete of all time, tennis player Serena Williams has faced discrimination throughout her career. She was ridiculed by her fellow female tennis players. Advertisers didn't like her looks, which resulted in considerably lower revenue from sponsor contracts than other athletes.

Upon reading, the very thought that society decides what kind of woman I am allowed to find attractive, got me cross. I recognized the similarities between the real world and the BDSM community. Both are ruled by a myopia of what is considered acceptable. Step outside narrow defined boundaries of what "they" consider acceptable behaviour and all of a sudden you are no longer a sinncere slave or a riel domme. Nonsense of course!

And the winner is...
Finally one of the most successful tennisplayers of all time starts to gain the recognition she deserves. Serena Williams has been choosen as Sports Illustrated' Sportsperson of the Year 2015. For many reasons that is a big deal. The magazine changed the title of the award from Sportsman or Sportswoman of the year to the gender neutral Sportsperson of the Year. Ms. Williams is only the third solo woman to receive the award, since its inception in 1954. She deserves it. Serena is a superstar, but not the boring, polished camera proof type of teflon plastic barbiegirl. She is human just like us and sometimes her character gets the better of her. Her temper is one such example. At age 34 she is much older than her competitors in women's tennis. That doesn't stop her from holding the title of best female tennisplayer in the world, a superhuman achievement by any standard.

serena williams playing tennis, focused

Boss move
Sports Illustrated revealed, "The cover was Serena's idea, to express her own ideal of femininity, strength and power.". That was too much for the critics and they stopped biting their tongue.A torrent of criticism was unleashed, probably by the same trolls from whom Serena Williams has faced discrimination throughout her career. No surprise one of the things she is passionate about, is equality.

ESPN's Shana Renee keeps it simple. She loves the cover and calls it mission accomplished. I agree.
"Looking at the cover and the attention it garnered, I say mission accomplished, Serena. While the cover, absent of any tennis props, not so subtly reminds us she is not defined by the sport, it also sends a more important message: She understands it is possible for women to simultaneously possess sex appeal and power. There is an inherent power in owning and self-defining your sexuality. It is not an either/or thing, but an and/both non-mutually exclusive thing. Serena is a strong, skilled, competent and self-respecting woman, in control of her image and all that it entails. Not only is there nothing wrong with that, but it's in fact highly empowering. It's a boss move."
It sure is a boss move! 10/10. As Williams told reporters at the awards ceremony in New York, “I liked the idea of the throne,”
“I said, ‘Listen, this needs to be something that no one forgets, something iconic! I wanted it to be really special … really Serena.’ When we went with that, I loved it.”

Annie Leibowitz photographs Serena Williams for the 2016 Pirelli calendar
Annie Leibowitz photographs Serena Williams for the 2016 Pirelli calendar (Image: Broadchannel)

More recognition
On December 25th, Serena Williams was named AP female athlete of the year for the fourth time. Next to that she will also star in the 2016 Pirelli calender, which has changed course and rather than focussing on scantily clad girl, now shows women of "outstanding professional, social, cultural, sporting and artistic accomplishment."

Last September she hosted her own collection during the New York Fashion Week. New York Magazine calls her the unretiring Serena Williams, eyeing a fashionable post-court life. This is a good article to read, if you want some background on her. The images also illustrate perfectly why the advertising industry is wrong. Finally, the New York Times, has an long read on Serena Williams historic grand slam bid - and why it ultimately collapsed.

The source for the last image (below) is unknown, but shows just how impressive she is. As sportsperson of the year 2015 Serena Williams has joined an exclusive club of athletes such as Muhammed Ali. This picture helps to explain some of the why Meanwhile I am left wondering, why exactly did she choose that throne?

serena williams shows her impressive strength as her legs are 180 degrees apart
Talent is just the beginning. It is hard work that builds success.  (Image: NY Mag)

No comments :

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...