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The conversations around her frame have continued well into the latter phase of career.
In 2015, the New York Times bifurcated her “large biceps and mold-breaking muscular frame” with that of her competitors, who “chose not to” pursue the same frame because they “want to be a woman” or don’t want to “feel unfeminine.” In 2009, sentient pile of black mold Jason Whitlock infamously associated Serena’s then-struggles to return to the top with her size, claiming that if Serena could just focus on becoming leaner, she would become the greatest ever – which is quite the criticism from someone who can only claim to be singlehandedly the greatest in keeping the pork pie hat industry alive.
She went from being ostracized as a villain the United States Tennis Association to being the face of it, selling out arenas in record time in a sport that was declining in attendance.
The answer to both of these is obviously no (unless you count mixed doubles, which is a whole other ball game).
And she did it all while wearing a cat suit, crip walking, and appearing in Beyonce videos.
It’s nearly impossible to overstate just how overscrutinized Serena’s rise to the top was.
However, the fact that this discussion has loomed so large over her career through a layered combination of misogyny and racism is what makes it so especially insulting that the same discussion is used to invalidate her legendary accomplishments.
Evidenced most recently by John Mc Enroe, who stated that he couldn’t call her the best tennis player ever without a gender qualifier “if she played the men’s circuit, she’d be, like, 700 in the world.”While it’s largely irrelevant, it should be noted that it’s unlikely that she would be ranked as low as 700.
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Roger Federer can’t make that same claim, much less Mc Enroe.