GQ magazine decided to shake up their annual Man of the Year issue by awarding Serena Williams her very own cover and Women of the Year title. While Serena's cover is gorgeous (of course), the gesture ended sparking a whole lot of controversy for the magazine. GQ stylized the cover story as "Woman" of the Year, which resulted in the men's lifestyle magazine getting dragged on social media.
Despite being one of the greatest athletes of all time, Serena has been forced to endure trolls and body shamers criticizing her appearance. Some have even gone so far as to call her a man or incorrectly claim she was born a man. This isn't a secret, either. Serena has addressed the ridicule she receives, saying: "I've been called man because I appeared outwardly strong... 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.)"
So, for GQ to choose to put "Woman" in quotations like that has left many Serena supporters understandably upset.
Writer E. Alex Jung shared a side-by-side of Serena and Gal Gadot's Woman of the Year covers. When the Wonder Woman actress was named Woman of the Year, there were no quotation marks around the word woman.
"Please explain to me why GQ Magazine’s Editorial Team felt that quote marks were necessary on the Serena Williams’ Woman of the Year Cover. I Really Really Need to Know. I’m Expecting an Answer," an outraged Twitter user wrote, sharing the controversial cover.
According to Cosmopolitan, the quotation marks were a "stylistic choice" meant to look like the handwriting of Virgil Abloh. GQ claims that Virgil is known for his use of quotation marks and since he's designed some of Serena's athletic wear, he was included in the cover design. For many, though, the cover still doesn't sit right.
"Even if quotation marks are Abloh's "thing", any decent editor should have said that this ain't it," writer and editor Lara Witt shared on Twitter.
Serena has yet to make a comment on the backlash.