What Serena is Really Fighting For

You may have seen the many headlines that have been in the news lately, headlines like Serena Williams fined $17,000 at the U.S. open after receiving three code violations. I read quite a few of these different articles and the more I read, the more enraged I became with the whole situation. Basically, Serena received a code violation after her coach “coached” her from the sidelines, which oddly enough is actually illegal in the game of Tennis. After this call, Serena smashed her racket into the ground and broke it--which probably was not the most appropriate thing to do--but let it be known that male tennis athletes do it all the time and are very rarely penalized for it. Serena Williams, a black female athlete, was indeed penalized for it. She received yet another code violation for smashing her racket, and she received a third for calling the referee a thief, which ended up costing her the game.

Before I say any more, I want to make it clear that the referee did act in accordance with the U.S. open rules, all of Serena’s code violations were indeed grounds for code violations. The real issue here is selective enforcement--the rules not being evenly enforced among all players. I could mention dozens of examples of men breaking their own rackets or yelling at refs and not being penalized for it. Why is it that male athletes are so rarely reprimanded for breaking their rackets? Because when men smash their rackets, they are fired up and excited, but when women do the same thing they “let their emotions get the best of them.” Women are held to a different standard, a double standard, which is why I am thankful for women like Serena who are so ready to fight for and challenge that double standard.

While it is disheartening to see how deep rooted sexism is in our society, in that it even manifests itself even in professional sports, I am glad that sexism on the court is being acknowledged at all. Acknowledgement is a major stride and hopefully Serena will keep doing her and changing people's minds and attitudes. Serena has dealt with racist comments, constant critiquing of her body and her outfit choices, but that has not stopped her from dominating the sport of Tennis. There are some sports writers that have even gone as far as to say that Serena is one of the greatest athletes of all time. She has dominated tennis for decades, winning 23 grand slam titles, the most of any player--male or female. She has remained confident with her body despite constantly being attacked for being too manly and too muscular. She is an athlete that has overcome obstacle after obstacle, time and time again. She is an inspiring, positive role model who has changed the world for the better.

I want to leave you with some final, encouraging words from Serena herself. Serena told this to Vogue in regards to her daughter “I think sometimes women limit themselves. I'm not sure why we think that way, but I know that we're sometimes taught to not dream as big as men, not to believe we can be a president or a CEO, when in the same household, a male child is told he can be anything he wants. I'm so glad I had a daughter. I want to teach her that there are no limits." We can be anything we want ladies, dream big and change the world, just like Serena.