Serena Williams is no stranger to controversies. In a career that has spanned over two decades, she has been embroiled in many nasty situations. While the blame can be pinned on her in a few cases, most of these controversial situations are a result of racial and sexual prejudice.
Serena Williams turned pro in 1995, at the young age of 14. As teenagers, she, along with elder sister Venus, plowed through the who’s who of the WTA world. Their unparalleled dominance helped the duo carve a niche for themselves in the primarily white dominated sport of tennis.
This came as a hard pill to swallow for millions, who still believed in racial supremacy. The racism and sexism was laid thick, but the Williams sister fought back. They started an era of stronghold, that lasted for a long time. However, despite being 20 years into the 21st century, things haven’t changed completely.
Every once in a while, we chance upon incidents where Serena or Venus are at the receiving end of snide remarks that reek of prejudice. Earlier this year, commentator and former race car driver Marc Duez made some vile remarks about Serena’s appearance during the Monaco Grand Prix.
Duez’s unsavoury remarks on Serena Williams
In May this year, Williams attended the Monaco Grand Prix, a prestigious car racing tournament. Marc Duez, a Dutch former racer himself, was present as co-commentator along with Gaëtan Vigneron. As a 23-time grand slam champion and the guest of honour at the event, Serena Williams was asked to wave the chequered flag to kick-start the race.
This is when Duez made a rather nasty comments that had sexual undertones. He snidely suggested “Serena Williams will be waving something different today,” referring to what usually would have been her tennis racquet.
After Red Bull driver Max Verstappen crossed the finish line, Duez went one step further, saying he could see that Serena is “clearly not a cheerleader”. As if picking on Williams wasn’t enough, he went a step further, mocking a friend who had accompanied her, blatantly labelling her “ugly”, much to the discomfort of Vigneron.
With his comments heard by thousands of people during the live stream, fierce uproar ensued, labelling Duez as misogynistic. As a result, broadcaster RTBF suspended him, launching an internal investigation. In a quick attempt to get on everyone’s good side, Duez stated “I want to apologise to the people who might be affected by my statements. I didn’t want to shock anyone”, however, his suspension remains unchanged.