Tag Archives: Venus Williams

Serena and Venus Williams: Sisters with Different Bodies

Laurie and Debbie say:

We have blogged about the Williams sisters before. But when we read this quote from Serena in an article by sports writer Bruce Jenkins (San Francisco Chronicle), it was time to write about her again. Usually “I’ve never been happier with myself” is a diet ad cliche.  Not this time.

Serena and Venus Williams

The most ridiculous criticism I’ve seen about Serena concerns her weight. Venus is a separate entity in the Williams family. She’s that girl you remember in high school, so trim and composed, and when you showed up at a reunion 20 years later, appalled at the collection of sad-sack mediocrity, there was that one girl, now a grown woman, even more admirable than before.

Serena’s body type falls into pattern with the rest of the women (including half-sisters) in the Williams family. Her entire adult life has been a battle to stay in shape. I was among many who assumed, five or six years ago, that she wouldn’t be long for the tour’s top 20. Now that she has proven everyone wrong (at the end of her epic, nearly three-hour Wimbledon semifinal win against Elena Dementieva, she was charging the net on match point against her), people still can’t quite grasp the truth.

“She’s not fit,” Simon Barnes wrote in the Times of London. “A pie or two has been consumed along the way.” Fox Sports columnist Jason Whitlock, in a piece as vicious as it was preposterous, wrote that “she’d rather eat” than compete hard in lesser tournaments, that she’s been “grazing at her stall between matches,” and that “she needs a little less butt.”

Nice to have these (male) “experts” offering as fact their uninformed opinions on the body of someone whose physical feats they couldn’t match in a million years.

Well, guess what, everybody, this formidable woman is laying waste to the countryside. Since this time last year, Serena owns three tournament titles – the U.S. Open, the Australian Open and Wimbledon. Her next major singles title will tie her with Billie Jean King (12) on the all-time list. Forget whatever the tour rankings claim; Serena is No. 1, followed closely by Venus.

“If all I did was play tennis, I’d be burned out by now and out of the game,” Serena said during Wimbledon. “But it’s not to say I don’t work hard at tennis. I’m in better shape than people think I am. I always wanted to look like Venus growing up, that tall, thin body that looks so good in clothes. Sometimes I felt like I hated her because I wanted my body to look like that, and I knew it never would. I’m built different. I have a big butt and chest. I could go without eating for two years and I still wouldn’t be a size two. I finally realized that not everybody’s Mary-Kate (Olsen), and I’ve never been happier with myself.”

Millions of American women need to hear what Serena is saying, in part because it never gets said from a position of power. The concept that women, including sisters, have different basic body types and shapes, that those shapes can all be as healthy as each other, and that you can be a terrific athlete without looking like a supermodel should not be radical. It shouldn’t even be slightly unfamiliar. But it is. And Serena Williams isn’t just a tennis champion: she’s also a truth-teller.

Thanksgiving 2008

Laurie and Debbie say:

Welcome to our annual “take advantage of the American Thanksgiving holiday to list some things in the world to be thankful for” post. This year it’s a lot easier than last year!

For those of you who’ve tuned in in the last year, because of our commitment to social change we spend a lot of time blogging about what makes us angry, unhappy, or dispirited. That’s why it’s important to spend a moment looking at what’s worth being thankful for. Here’s another random, off-the-top-of-our-heads list, this year with links. Please help us add to it.

We have a sane man coming in to the American presidency. We have a smart man coming into the American presidency. We have the first African-American to come into the American presidency. (And they’re all the same person!)

Gay marriage is now legal in Connecticut, the second U.S. state that currently recognizes full marriage between two people of the same sex. Also, the Florida law banning gay people from adopting children was overturned this week.

The Federal Communications Commission decided on Election Day to open up the “white space” freed when television goes digital to unlicensed, free internet usage, such as wireless usage. This will be especially important in rural areas, The National Association of Broadcasters is mounting a congressional challenge, but they’ll probably have a hard time with the new Congress.

Silverton, Oregon has elected a man who is believed to be the first transgender mayor in America.

New York Times columnist Paul Krugman, a smart and thoughtful man with an ecological bent, won the Nobel prize in Economics.

Serena Williams won the U.S. Women’s Open championship. (We’d have been just as happy if her sister had won.)

Debbie’s representative in Congress, Barbara Lee, is the new chair of the Congressional Black Caucus. Rep. Lee was the only member of Congress to vote against George Bush’s militaristic response immediately after the September 11 attacks.

Right-wing senator Lindsey Graham made an unfortunate promise before the election. “I’ll beat Michael Phelps in swimming before Barack Obama wins North Carolina.” We’re looking forward to the swim meet.

Everyone’s favorite adolescent wanker, John Updike, has won the lifetime achievement award for bad sex writing. Here’s one sample:

“Faye leaned back on the blanket, arranging her legs in an M of receptivity, and he knelt between them like the most abject and craven supplicant who ever exposed his bare ass to the eagle eyes of a bunch of crows.”

And just last week, a medical team in Barcelona and Great Britain completed the first successful organ transplant of a partial windpipe grown from the patient’s own stem cells!

Have a great holiday; we’ll be back early next week.