Serena William’s Wimbledon victory—her fourth Grand Slam in a row, and her twenty-first Grand Slam victory overall—is a testament to her skill and strength as one of the greatest, if not the greatest, female tennis players of all time.
David Frum, former adviser to George W. Bush and current Senior Editor of The Atlantic, begs to differ.
Steroids? Oh no, no, no. “Body image issues.” http://t.co/40W01g14n7— David Frum (@davidfrum) July 11, 2015
His remarks are offensive on so many levels.
Firstly, his accusation that Williams is undeserving is one of several go-to lowballs that have been thrown at her over the years, and you bet there’s a racial and sexist edge to the onslaught she’s suffered. It’s cut from the same cloth as the Affirmative Action naysayers who claim that any woman and/or person of color who’s made it has done so wrongfully.
Secondly, the steroid claim assumes that women can’t attain Williams’ physique through dedicated athleticism—and that’s reductive of both female bodies and capabilities. Daniel Koffler, a medical student and competitive power lifter who has worked as a “Certified Strength And Conditioning Specialist” (i.e. knows a lot more about this stuff than Frum) says there’s no reason to make such assumptions:
“Women can, and very frequently do, achieve levels of muscular size and strength not just equal to but greater than Serena Williams’ without using steroids.”
But that hasn’t stopped Williams from becoming one of the most frequently drug tested players in tennis, though she’s never been implicated. Williams’ body has been “gawked at and mocked throughout her career,” as The New York Times notes.
#SerenaSlam! I love her. What an athlete, what a role model, what a woman!— J.K. Rowling (@jk_rowling) July 11, 2015
Lastly, Frum’s suggestion that “body image issues” are now a euphemism to explain away steroid use is and triumphed over it. Williams herself has suffered from body image issues, born of a culture that views femininity and athleticism as mutually exclusive (leading many female athletes to avoid bulking up, so they can look acceptably womanly while even as their head is in the game). But triumphed over these demons. Now she is a role model for kids everywhere learning to love their bodies.
Frum claims that the tweets were meant as a private message, but that doesn’t erase the fact that this is how he thinks. That this is how many people think.
It's just another way to try to stop an unstoppable woman.
Read more: Why Is Serena Williams Such An Easy Target?