Is Serena Williams a BBW (Big, Black Woman)?

The Kansas City Star’s Jason Whitlock seems to think so.

In a column currently posted on Fox Sports, he blasts Serena (whom he says has “ limitless potential,” calling her the main reason he watches tennis) for her chronic underachievement in tennis. The gist of his article: Serena won Wimbledon, sure, but have you seen how big her butt is? Because with a butt like that, how can she expect to succeed?

The wildly hypocritical writer (he’s chubby himself …and no, just because you point that out yourself in the column, Mr, Whitlock, doesn’t mean the fact ceases to exist) concedes that “God gave Serena everything, including drop-dead looks,” but that, sadly, “she's chosen to smother some of it in an unsightly layer of thick, muscled blubber, a byproduct of her unwillingness to commit to a training regimen and diet that would have her at the top of her game year-round.”

If she dropped 30 pounds, he hypothesizes, Serena would be the Michael Jordan of tennis, would score more magazine cover photos and could attain the kind of much-desired attention that comes with being “downloaded on the Internet three times more often than Anna Kournikova.” (Because that’s what all female athletes desire, yes?) Instead, she lives a sad, defeated life pushing 175 pounds, happy to slack off unless she’s playing in a major tournament or being photographed on dates, and proudly serving “as a role model for women with oversized back packs.”

“She'd rather eat, half-ass her way through non-major tournaments and complain she's not getting the respect her 11-major-championships résumé demands,” Whitlock writes. “She complains about being ranked No. 2 in the world when she's not bitching on Twitter or her blog about new rules that forbid Wimbledon players from eating in the locker room.  Seriously, how else can Serena fill out her size 16 shorts without grazing at her stall between matches?”

Yes, he just compared one of the world’s top female tennis player to a cow.

Has anyone here ever thought of Serena as overweight? It’s never even entered my mind – I’m not kidding, it truly hasn’t, and I’ll be the first to admit when I DO think things like that. After all, being cognizant – not judgmental, mind you, but merely aware - of people’s weights is kind of my de facto job. Of course I know Serena is bigger than the average gal but she’s a powerhouse athlete with solid, visible muscles. (Check out her “backpack,” as Whitlock calls it, here. I’m sorry but no matter which way you look at it, that ain’t flab.) Her strength and size helps her play…at least that’s what I thought. I understand that if the opportunity to be in even better physical shape exists, an athlete should want to grab it, and I have heard of Serena’s potentially untapped ability being discussed before, but is calling her a cow with a huge ass the right way to go about it?

(In a refreshing turn of events, just yesterday, Dan and I were at a Cubs-Brewers game and he pointed out “the big boy on deck,” Prince Fielder. He’s 5’11”, 270 lbs. “Is he fast?” I asked. Dan’s look assured me he is not. Still, he hit a home run. AND, on Friday night, when a discussion of 12-fingered former cubs pitcher Antonio Alfonseca came up at a Fourth of July BBQ, how freaking psyched was I that a previous Weighting Game blog of mine was one of the first entries to pop up when Dan Googled “Antonio Alfonseca AND Fingers”?! Oh, AND we brought sushi into Wrigley Field, which was amazing.)

Now, just for fun, let’s through race into the mix. I wonder, if Williams were white, would I be thinking the same thing? It’s become commonplace in our society for us to make blanket generalizations like, “Black women can have a little more meat on their bones – guys like it!” Usually it’s thin, white girls saying this, often accompanied by a scowl and an “It’s, like, SO not fair!” Deciding whether it’s true or not doesn’t really matter and can’t actually be done…after all, we can’t make a general statement about what white men like or Asian men like, so why should we with African-American men and women? That said, if Serena was white, I can’t say without a doubt that I’d never have thought of her as overweight. At 5’9” and an estimated 175 pounds, would I have looked at, say, Monica Seles (who recently wrote Getting a Grip: On My Body, My Mind, My Self, in which she reveals a nine-year struggle with binge eating) and thought “pure muscle”? If I’m being honest with you and with myself, probably not. I wouldn’t have thought “fat” or anything like that, but maybe in an effort to be PC and nonjudgmental or whatever, we tend to look at black women’s and give them a bigger break.

Tell me what you think. Oh, and you can e-mail Jason Whitlock at ballstate0@aol.com and share your thoughts on his article with him, too.

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