GQ's Jeanne Marie Laskas has declared Serena Williams ''Champion of the Year," basing the honor on a loss and an epic meltdown by Williams at the 2018 U.S. Open finals in September. In arguing that women are held to a higher standard for expressing anger, Williams' outburst is defended because she was robbed by a "stupid skinny white-boy," while Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh's fiery September defense against charges of sexual misconduct is characterized as a "hissy fit."
"After a remarkable year, the world’s most indomitable athlete has a few things she’d like to share about that wild evening at the U.S. Open, sure, but also about how she managed to triumph in the end by raising her voice," says Laskas, trying to turn that defeat by Williams into some sort of watershed victory for the cause.
Laskas brags on Williams as "the most enduring athlete of all time," and then recites her complaint to chair umpire Carlos Ramos, who had given her a "coaching" code violation during that eventful night at the U.S. Open.
Laskas says there was a gender-based double standard at play:
"An injustice. What do you do with that? If you're a man, you fight and become a hero; if you're a woman, you better shut up or else they'll call you crazy.
"I ask her what it's like to find herself at the center of a giant conversation, particularly now, in this #MeToo moment, about power and gender, about what happens to a woman when she expresses anger."
Laskas says the U.S. Open outburst is linked to the nomination process of Kavanaugh as people were gathering in Washington to consider the nomination of Judge Brett Kavanaugh to the U.S. Supreme Court during the same time:
"'Funny how a black female tennis player is held to a higher standard to keep her emotions in check than a Supreme Court nominee,' tweeted Alabama state-senator candidate Deborah Barros, referring to Kavanaugh's tears and hissy ﬁt upon being accused of sexual assault by Dr. Christine Blasey Ford. He was praised by President Trump for being a fighter, and then he was awarded a lifetime appointment to the nation's highest court."
When Kavanaugh got angry about accusations against him it was a "hissy fit." Not so when Serena blew a gasket in award-winning fashion at the U.S. Open. Laskas fails to see the inconsistency.
Williams follows up: "Kavanaugh's a white man. I'm a black woman. His limit is higher. My limit is way lower. And that's where we stand right now in this world. And it's a fact. It is literally a fact. If you don't believe anything I say, just look at those two examples."
This is historical revisionism. Many media criticized Kavanaugh; Williams, who says black women who express anger are relegated to the bottom of the totem pole, was and is a media darling. There is no debating that Williams got far better media treatment than Kavanaugh did.
Laskas says of Williams, "She embraced different, became its defender, spoke out for the disenfranchised, railed against pay gaps for women of color, against police violence, LGBTQ discrimination. Even the very fact of her race seemed like its own act of defiance in an ultra-white sport ..."
She also embraced defiance, as Laskas says Williams came to the U.S. Open "locked and loaded in a fuck-you tutu. A two-tone one-sleeve leotard with twirl-worthy black tulle peeking out and fishnet tights, the ensemble a collaboration between designer Virgil Abloh and Nike. On Serena it was fabulous, and righteous—the world's greatest athlete in a tutu coming after some stupid skinny white-boy umpire who robbed Serena, who robbed Naomi of legitimate glory, who ruined everything."