“Serena Williams Goes Ballistic after…” – Maxim.com
“Serena Williams Lashes Out…” – Complex.com
“Serena Williams Got off easy.” – NY Post
Need I say more?
I’ve thought long and hard about how to tackle this topic and every time I thought about how to write it, I couldn’t even begin because it literally brought me to tears. I won’t speak for all Black women when I say this because I am only responsible for myself. With that being said, it is completely and utterly exhausting to wake up some mornings knowing that you’re always “on set”. What do I mean by that? Let’s chat…
I stood in my kitchen on Saturday afternoon watching the 2018 US Open…fighting back tears as I watched the match between Serena Williams and Naomi Osaka. I wasn’t sad about the fact that Serena was losing because Naomi played a better match overall. I was more saddened about the blatant yet unresolved triple standard we as Black women are faced with every day. On August 26, 1920, women gained the right to vote — but we didn’t gain the right to make our voices count until the 1965 Voting Rights Act.
Why does that brief history lesson even matter? It matters because for decades our voices have been stifled. We have been forced to be robotic to a point where you question if it is even worth having an opinion to avoid being labeled as an “angry Black woman”. I’m not a USTA umpire and there are finite rules of the game that I’m not well-versed in. However, I’ve been a fan of the sport for years and remember watching countless matches growing up where frustration was expressed by many players — and rightfully so. Why was that a problem in this match? Why is it that when we go “off script” that we are vilified and robbed of the ability to show emotion?
I mentioned earlier in this piece that we are always “on set”. It goes without saying that the world is always watching. Don’t believe me? Check out some of the things that are being said about Serena’s expressions during the match. People have even gone as far as to make a cruel and downright disrespectful cartoon portraying her as some inhuman, maniacal character. All because she went “off script” and showed some emotion? Come on!!!
While Serena is no stranger to international platforms because of her career, there are many “Serenas” out there that face the same issue every day — on the field, in the workplace, in their social and civil organizations and in so many more places we are forced to suppress our emotions for the comfort of others. The physical constraints of the Women’s Suffrage Movement and other societal blemishes that made the 1965 Voting Rights Act necessary may be “gone”. However, don’t be fooled — there is still a great deal of suffrage going on here. Don’t believe me? Think about the many times people “jokingly” make references to Madea and other theatrical constructs in response to displeasure expressed by Black women — even going as far as asking if she is going to go into her purse. There is nothing funny about unconscious biases…there is nothing funny about being hesitant to express yourself…there is nothing funny about having to remain “on script”…none of it is funny.
So if you think this was all about a trophy, think again.