Why I'm Mad about Serena and You Should Be, Too

On September 8th, Serena Williams competed against Noami Osaka at the US open women’s singles final. During the match, which Osaka went on to win, Williams was penalized by umpire Carlos Ramos, who accused her of cheating. To his accusations, Serena responded “I don’t cheat to win; I’d rather lose.” However, Ramos still refused to offer Williams an apology. Despite this, Williams continued to stand her ground and demanded that she be given an apology.

After Osaka claimed victory of the match, boos began to erupt from the crowd, which Williams hushed. Williams hugged Osaka and congratulated her on her first US Open championship win. Serena Williams and Noami Osaka were representing black sisterhood, but the media didn't interpret it this way. Despite her showmanship and strength, it was announced Sunday that Williams had been fined $17,000 for court violations.

Like Noami Osaka, I grew up admiring Serena Williams. She is strong, but always made out to be the angry black woman. Immediately following the match, articles began to pour out depicting Williams as an angry cry baby. Perhaps one of the most upsetting depictions was a cartoon which portrayed Williams as an oversized baby throwing a tantrum on the tennis court.

The cartoon, drawn by artist Mark Knight, has received well-deserved backlash for perpetuating the angry black woman stereotype. In comparison to Osaka, who has been drawn as a white woman with blonde hair despite being Japanese and Haitian, Williams is muscular with overdrawn and bulging facial features.

When I first saw this image I was disgusted, Williams has endured both racism and sexism throughout her career and yet, when she acknowledges her mistreatment she is literally painted as an angry black woman. As black women, especially in predominantly white spaces, we are often taught to lower our voices and “be seen and not heard” out of fear of being called an angry black woman. To see that one of our strongest women has been continually torn down despite fighting for women's rights and equality show’s the cruel reality that even our heroes aren’t untouchable.