Serena Williams Is Featured as GQ’s Woman of the Year – But Not Without Some Controversy


On November 12, GQ announced their 2018 Men of the Year, and one woman as well. The honorees included Michael B. Jordan, Jonah Hill, Henry Golding, and – yes – tennis queen Serena Williams. Now, her cover issue is making some major waves.

Serena Williams
Leonard Zhukovsky /

Recognizing a Champion

Not only was she included in this year’s lineup as the “Champion of the Year,” there’s more. The magazine also called her “the world’s most indomitable athlete,” and we couldn’t agree more. This year has been a doozy for the tennis superstar, but she’s been dominantly clearing all the hurdles. It seems as if there’s no obstacle she can’t overcome.

And, of course, after her outbursts at the U.S. Open, there was also a bit to unpack.

“I’ve had a lot of things happen to me at the U.S. Open,” she explained in the magazine’s editorial piece. “I think about three or four different things. Especially in the later rounds. I think a person can be a little bit more sensitive to anything in that moment. You know, it becomes a trigger moment. When you go through a really extreme ordeal not once, not twice, not three times, it becomes a trigger moment.”

Cover Art Controversy

Article aside, the magazine’s cover art that featured Williams seemed to upset a number of folks online. On the issues that feature her on the cover, the word “Man” in Man of the Year is crossed out. Replacing it is the word “Woman,” in quotation marks. And it’s the quotes, specifically, that got some folks fired up.

GQ Magazine

“Um, why is Serena Williams referred to as a woman in quotes on this cover?” wrote one Twitter user.

Another pointed out that Williams has, in the past, “been mocked for her appearance and deliberately misgendered for years.”

However, quotation marks are simply part of designer Virgil Abloh’s aesthetic. Though some critics found the quotations to be taking things a bit too far, regardless.

Abloh’s Style

Abloh, the Artistic Director of Louis Vuitton, is known for putting quotation marks on things. That includes Nike shoes, and even suits he’s designed especially for Williams. Yes, she has worn tennis attire with her own name in quotes.

Williams herself has collaborated with Abloh and Nike in the past, which included several pieces with quotation marks. They prominently feature the words “Logo,” “queen,” and, yes, “Serena.” So, yes, there is context there.

However, some people still just aren’t having it. What do you think?