I was scrolling through IG a few days ago when I saw this quote by Serena for the press conference after she lost to Halep in the Wimbledon Finals posted by USTA.
I had watched that entire match and the press conference afterward with my mom and I saw right away how they left out the only words in that quote that I had hung on to. The complete quote is as follows.
I knew even then that when Serena said made this statement that it was still vague enough for the media to manipulate and project it’s agenda onto. But wow, they just went ahead and took the whole damn thing out. When Serena said “People that look like you and me…” I feel like she was doing that old double consciousness balancing act that still haunts many of us as Black people to this day. Serena’s indications about people who look like her and the reporter (I’m assuming she wasn’t white?) were specific and yet leaving enough wiggle room for the customization of truth that is written by Whiteness. In fact, every conference I’ve watched Serena give during this Wimbledon tournament has made me wonder what anger, frustration and irritation lay unsaid inside of her as she appears to maintain a lo-key, laid back, non-reactive and non-threatening facade, the anti-thesis of her behavior during the now infamous Osaka match.
My husband made the interesting point that the media’s uproarious and favorable acceptance of Coco Gauff has taken a lot of pressure off of Serena this year. If not for Coco she might have had to withstand harsher focus from the media. It’s ironic really how Serena and Venus have clearly opened the doors for young Black female tennis players like Sloane and Gauff, who seem to be getting the kind of measured and unbiased treatment from the press and media which the Williams sisters were never afforded because of blatant racism. Its wonderful, strange and a bit concerning to me (double consciousness again) to watch Coco respond to the press by just being the young girl she is. When I think of that terrible “interview” Venus had to endure with that White a-hole who probably called himself a journalist when she was just 14 years old, I cringe. I know this is an experience like many others the Williams sisters endured which informed the women they are now, experiences they have had to surpass and transcend so that others who look like them might not have to. And although the Williams are revered as top tennis champions and hold a place in history as Black women who have persevered oppression and racism in the sport, the thing is, it’s not over. It’s not over and they know it in ways Sloane and Gauff may never know. That’s how it works after all.
I studied Serena’s face when they dared to ask her how she felt her stamina compared with Roger Federer’s considering their advanced ages and I longed for the equivalent of the Key and Peele Obama translator sketch ; a Black woman with nothing to lose could stand beside her and translate what Serena said unapologetically in explicit language that Black folk would understand and make racist White people uncomfortable with their implicit role in her frustration.
Muthafucka, Federer ain’t had to push out an entire fucking human being out his body and then almost die afterward! Who the fuck do you think she is? She slayed the Australian Open while she was pregnant bitches! Why not ask Federer if he thinks he could have pulled that shit off?
That’s what my imaginary Williams translator would have said if she was there with Serena that day. She would have also said the words Black women, not “people who look like you and I.” But fuck if I don’t understand why she didn’t say Black women. She would have to deal with all kinds of stories calling her angry and asking why everything has to be about race…
It’s fucking exhausting y’all.
Ya’ll Whiteness is fucking exhausting.