Serena Williams: The Double Standard for Black Athletes in Sport  

Serena Williams is a very well-known athlete and has completely dominated in the sport of tennis. However, her experience in the sport industry has not always been easy. Serena Williams is a Black woman and because of this she has experienced discrimination and inequality as an athlete.  

In 2018 during the US opens Serena Williams became upset with the calls the umpire was making and confronted him, and the media had a lot to say (Kessel, 2018). Serena Williams was painted in this horrible light as an angry, emotional woman. Then in February of 2021, Serena Williams plays against Aryna Sablenka who slammed her tennis racquet out of anger and frustration (EUR, 2021). This opens the discussion about the double standard for black athletes.  

Aryna Sablenka slamming her racquet at the 2021 Australian Open (Source: Hamish Blair)

When Aryna Sablenka aggressively slammed her racquet, she was praised for ‘letting out’ emotion, and in Serena Williams case in 2018, she was not praised. She was specifically painted as aggressive, which is a black stereotype.  

It is important to note that what Serena Williams did was not okay, but neither was what Aryna Sablenka did. Rather all people in sport, should be held to this same standard.

In an article by Zenquis and Mwaniki (2019), they talk about the intersections of race and gender in sport and the media representation. They argue that Black women are seen near the bottom of every social indicator and go into detail about how this is in sport.  

It is important in this context because Serena Williams is a female Black athlete, and because of this she experiences discrimination in every aspect, especially in her career as an athlete.  

Allison Fox

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