Over the weekend, Russian tennis chief Shamil Tarpischev apologized for calling Venus and Serena Williams “the Williams brothers”—the least funny insult in what for the Williamses has been a career filled with unfunny, sexist and racist insults for the sisterly titans of professional women’s tennis.
Ever since they stepped onto the court in the mid-1990s, the Williams sisters have been bombarded with obnoxious comments that have had absolutely nothing to do with their game. Critics have attacked their race, gender, faces, bodies, personalities and hair.
This latest insult is further evidence that no matter how many No. 1 titles they’ve held, trophies they’ve hoisted or records they’ve broken, because they don’t look like their blonde, lithe andbetter-compensated competition Maria Sharapova, some critics will insist on taking their beef with the Williams sisters off the court and onto their bodies:
Comparing her posterior to an oozing pumpkin, in a 2009 column for FOX Sports, Jason Whitlock went on a sexist screed about Serena Williams’ perceived laziness and weight gain that was wrapped in a contrarian-filled tortilla of shaming and mansplaining.
Wrote Whitlock: “She’d rather eat, half-ass her way through non-major tournaments and complain she’s not getting the respect her 11-major-championships résumé demands …. [S]eriously, how else can Serena fill out her size-16 shorts without grazing at her stall between matches?”
He couched his vulgar criticisms under the guise that he was a “fan” who really cares … about what number is on her scale.