Are we still doing this?
Yet again, the sport of tennis are trying anything to thwart the reign of Queen Serena. The most recent revelation being the fact that the dude who gets to decide things about the French Open (I care so little for his decision making I can’t be bothered to google his name. And for those who say that’s just bad journalism I politely remind you that this an opinion piece and I’ve already written him of as the opening of an anus) has stated that Queen Serena is no longer allowed to wear a catsuit whilst playing at the French Open.
I’m almost giggling as I write this because the racism tickles me with a little too much enthusiasm but Anne White wore a similar catsuit playing at Wimbledon in 1985. In a time with less readily available sexualised music, fashion and culture one would think that such an outfit would’ve caused similar, if not more distaste to what is being shown to Queen Serena but of course not as Anne’s particular saving grace was the same as her last name.
I’ve often wondered why Serena felt she had to return to professional tennis so soon after the birth of her daughter. As a mother I could tell it went beyond her ‘love for the game’. As a woman who is constantly marginalised and picked on, every day spent not being able to shut people the fuck up, is a hard day to have. I can only imagine these racist pigs’ glee when she announced her pregnancy, no different to a disliked woman in the office falling pregnant one can only hope she’s never seen again after maternity leave.
But what those people waiting for Serena to disappear don’t understand is that she left the court, where is is continuously harassed (she’s the most drug tested athlete on record) and went into a birthing situation which was far from ideal and once again highlighted the white supremacy which befalls her at every turn. Admittedly she had the upper hand in her birthing situation. Many black women find that it’s not until they’re giving birth that they encounter a level of racism which can’t be put down as a micro aggression. When you’re crying out for painkillers and then told you’re over doing it only to watch an Anne White across the way be pumped full of all the morphine her alabaster coloured body can handle, you suddenly see that shit in the macro. So Serena came to the birthing game already aware of the racial hurdles that could pop up at any time. She’s not new to this.
But as an onlooker, I’m exhausted for her. White people simply get to be the best. Hell they don’t even get to be the best but will still be force fed accolades as if they are such. It’s no secret that even though sharipova never ranked as high as Williams she beat her dollar for dollar when it came to off court endorsements. And for those that don’t know, that’s how an athletes bank account is really taken to the next level. Serena tirelessly shows up to court and life to the constant quiet soundtrack that the majority will never except her exceptional talent as they cannot look past her exterior.
But speaking form experience there is something otherworldly which happens to a woman’s interior when she is constantly made to feel inferior due to her exterior. The kind of women silently commits to showing up and showing out every single day. Through experience I can attest the more you’re called a Nigger the less powerful the word seems to become. This doesn’t mean the word is less dehumanizing, it just means that the person the word is thrown at becomes stronger than the vitriol of the word itself. For all the chants of ape and monkey, Queen Serena continuously shows up to court and wins with such grace that even the most racist of spectator can only leave with the N-word giving them heartburn and hope that one day there’s a little blonde girl who can topple the Queen's reign. No matter if she wore a black catsuit or played buck naked the level of talent and experience our Queen plays with is unmatched. The policing of her body and outfits is just another way to silence her quiet protests and try to beak down the psyche of a woman whom by all accounts is unbreakable. It’s a true shame that instead of enjoying a talent and level of tennis playing they won’t get to see ever again with their own eyes, many seem hellbent on making her and her blackness disappear even if that means settling for white mediocrity in her absence.
I came across a quote which stopped me dead in my tracks:
‘You can take the superhero out of her costume. But you can never take away her superpowers.’ - NIKE
I couldn’t have said it better myself.
Long may she reign.