Published: Wed, November 14, 2018
Entertaiment | By Paul Elliott

GQ's Serena Williams cover sparks outcry, despite simple explanation

GQ's Serena Williams cover sparks outcry, despite simple explanation

Tennis superstar Serena Williams has been caught in the middle of a social media storm after appearing on the front cover of GQ magazine.

Alongside the image of the 37-year-old looking fierce in a black bodysuit accessorized by a gold chain-link Chanel belt, the word "man" (not in quotes) is slashed, and "Woman" is hand-written above it. She' been named GQ's Woman of the Year. Some critics argued that the use of the inverted commas was linked to ugly accusations surrounding Williams' gender.

After the controversy erupted, GQ staffer Mick Rouse also weighed in.

He pointed out the quotation marks were handwritten on the cover by Off-White fashion designer Virgil Abloh, who famously uses quotation marks in his creations. It has even been suggested he copyright his "unique" style.

Williams has been at the centre of heated public debate already this year.

Chasing a record-equaling 24th major, Williams lost in both finals, falling to a straight-sets defeat to Anqelique Kerber at Wimbledon and a controversial loss to Naomi Osaka at Flushing Meadows, where she was docked a game after calling the umpire a "thief". She most notably wore his black tutu design during the first round of the US Open. In early 2018, Williams looked back on a career of constant jabs from offensive fans.

"People would say I was born a guy, all because of my arms, or because I'm strong", she told Harper's Bazaar. "I was different to Venus: She was thin and tall and handsome, and I am strong and muscular - and handsome, but, you know, it was just totally different".

The list of this year's honorees was unveiled on Monday, via the Twitter handle of the magazine. Williams has spoken in the past about being called a man or shamed for her muscular body, Today notes.

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