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Dr. Boyce Watkins on Serena Williams Being Banned

by on October 19, 2009

by Dr. Boyce Watkins, Syracuse University 

Serena Williams has been listed as a headliner for this year’s Australian Open. The problem is that it’s not clear whether she’ll be allowed to play.

Because of a recent outburst in which she threatened a line judge, Williams may be banned from at least one Grand Slam tournament. According to published reports, Williams told the judge, "You don’t know me. You better be right. I swear to God I’m going to take this ball and shove it down your throat."Given that a ball going down your throat might actually kill you, the judge felt that Serena had threatened her life. Then again, Serena’s from Compton, a town that has become famous for finding creative ways to kill people. Serena does not, however, need to take "the hood" with her all the way to Australia.

To make matters more interesting, Serena recently got naked for the cover of ESPN magazine, certifying her status as an iconic and thought-provoking figure for the early 21st century. These two events, plus the fact that she just happens to be one of the most dominant female tennis players in history, makes her the kind of woman we’ll all be talking about for the next 100 years. Our great-grandkids won’t be talking much about the boring apolitical figure called Michael Jordan. We’ll congratulate Tiger Woods for being the first incredibly rich black man to consistently beat the crap out of the arrogant guys at the country club. Serena Williams’ name, though, will come up in classes on feminist theory, history and sociology. Like Muhammad Ali, Serena is becoming bigger than her sport, and my greatest hope is that her ability to transcend tennis is guided by a desire to serve all humanity, and not just herself. Her nude body on the cover of ESPN is her way of yelling to the world that she is more than a tennis player. I agree that she is.

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