GQ magazine revealed all-time tennis great Serena Williams as its sole Woman of the Year for 2018
GQ magazine revealed all-time tennis great Serena Williams as its sole Woman of the Year for 2018

Serena Williams named GQ's Woman of the Year but magazine cover sparks controversy

Fans are angry with the use of quotation marks around the word woman

Sarah Young
Wednesday 14 November 2018 15:25
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GQ has come under fire for using quotation marks to describe Serena Williams as its Woman of the Year.

The magazine announced on Twitter that Michael B. Jordan, Henry Golding and Jonah Hill are its Men of the Year for 2018, and that all-time tennis great Serena Williams is its sole Woman of the Year.

However, the honour – which was last awarded to actor Gal Gadot in 2017 – hasn’t gone down well with a number of Williams’ fans.

Why? Because the typography, handwritten by Off-White designer Virgil Abloh, puts the word woman in quotation marks.

Some critics claim that this could be linked to accusations surrounding the 23-time grand slam champion’s gender.

“I can’t believe no one at GQ thought perhaps with misogynistic and violent trans insults that Serena (and Venus) have dealt with for the last almost 20 years, to not put woman in quotation marks,” one person commented.

“Editorial rooms are a f***ing disaster, all over this country. I’m offended for her.”

Another person wrote: “@GQMagazine decided to put woman in quotes on Serena’s cover and I too am offended and disgusted knowing the gender slights and digs people still throw at @serenawilliams.”

Others were quick to defend the publication, pointing out that the use of quotation marks is a trademark of Abloh’s work.

“It was handwritten by Virgil Abloh of Off-White, who has styled everything in quotation marks as of late (see Serena's US Open apparel that he designed),” one person wrote.

The comment makes reference to Williams' outfit for the US Open, when she sported a black tutu dress designed by Abloh in collaboration with Nike, which featured the word logo in the same style.

The designer has also used this same design on limited-edition bottles of champagne, puffer jackets and trainers.

Nonetheless, people remained perplexed, arguing that Abloh should have been more considerate of the offensive accusations Williams has faced in the past.

“In the context of Serena Williams, a person who has been mocked for her appearance and deliberately misgendered for years... this ain’t it, Virgil,” one person commented.

Another added: “Quotes are his ‘thing’, but still..."

Last year, Williams touched on the offensive jibes regarding her physique in an open letter to her mother on Reddit.

“I've been called [a] man because I appeared outwardly strong,” she wrote.

“It has been said that that I use drugs. (No, I have always had far too much integrity to behave dishonestly in order to gain an advantage).

It has been said I don't belong in women's sports - that I belong in men's - because I look stronger than many other women do. (No, I just work hard and I was born with this badass body and proud of it).

“But mom,” she continued, “I'm not sure how you did not go off on every single reporter, person, announcer and quite frankly, hater, who was too ignorant to understand the power of a black woman."

The Independent has contacted GQ for comment.

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