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December 14, 2015 9:38 AM   Subscribe

Serena Williams is Sports Illustrated's 2015 Sportsperson of the Year
posted by The Gooch (53 comments total) 15 users marked this as a favorite
 
It's nice to see them use an "I'm awesome, this is just objective fact" sort of pose for her, since you rarely see that used for female athletes.
posted by NoxAeternum at 9:39 AM on December 14, 2015 [15 favorites]


Fierce.
posted by Fizz at 9:42 AM on December 14, 2015 [1 favorite]


Serena Williams is Sports Illustrated's 2015 Sportsperson BAMF of the Year

fixed it for them
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 9:49 AM on December 14, 2015 [6 favorites]


She is awesome and incredible and inspiring and stay the fuck away from the comments.
posted by billiebee at 9:59 AM on December 14, 2015 [11 favorites]


Yay!
posted by Melismata at 10:00 AM on December 14, 2015


This is, in fact, super awesome, but it's horribly telling that a lot of men would have preferred a horse instead of a bad-ass woman of colour. Some the RTs I'm seeing FOC on Twitter are just...holy shit.
posted by Kitteh at 10:02 AM on December 14, 2015




pips (mrs. jonmc) is a huge tennis fan and will be thrilled with this. Hell, I'm only a casual fan and I'm digging it.
posted by jonmc at 10:08 AM on December 14, 2015 [1 favorite]


Serena Williams is amazing.

What the fuck about the horse? ugggh
Yes stay away from the comments, forever.
posted by Theta States at 10:09 AM on December 14, 2015


The Horse People Are Mad Online (slDeadspin)

Good for her. Stay the fuck away from the comments, indeed.
posted by the painkiller at 10:10 AM on December 14, 2015 [1 favorite]


The article seems to be written from the premise that we should be surprised that a woman of color somehow got this title, and even moreover, that she somehow has the capacity to have her own public persona, let alone a successful one at that!

For chrissakes, they call her "exotic" in the first sentence of the second paragraph. In 2015!

Is there anybody who even tangentially follows sports who thinks that there's another currently-active athlete who deserves this award more than Serena? She has dominated her sport in a way that few humans have dominated any field.

And, yeah. She's black. She's a woman. And she does not suffer fools gladly.
So I guess it's a little surprising that she hasn't attracted more fake controversy... but it's really hard to argue against her record. Any arguments against her are going to be difficult to substantiate, and seem transparently racist or sexist.
posted by schmod at 10:11 AM on December 14, 2015 [5 favorites]


They aren't calling Serena exotic. Here's the context:

"Indeed, in 2015 Williams hit this rare sweet spot, a pinch-me patch where the exotic became the norm. She danced with Donald Trump on New Year’s Eve. She spent a night telling bedtime stories to the children of Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg. Growing up, Williams had devoured every Harry Potter book, marveled at the business empires of Oprah Winfrey and Martha Stewart. Now J.K. Rowling was tweeting against a critic of Williams’s body, now Oprah was hustling to watch her at the U.S. Open, now Stewart was calling Williams “the most powerful woman I know.” President Barack Obama, the most scrutinized man alive, told her how great it was to watch her."
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 10:13 AM on December 14, 2015


Am I misreading that quote? (I hope I am!) That word-choice still seems really odd to me.
posted by schmod at 10:14 AM on December 14, 2015 [2 favorites]


For six weeks this summer—and for the first time in the 40-year history of the WTA rankings—Williams amassed twice as many ranking points as the world No. 2; at one point that gap grew larger than the one between No. 2 and No. 1,000.
Daaamn.

I don't know why they stopped at 1,000 -- on July 13th, for instance, she had 13,161 points, and #2 ranked Maria Sharapova had 6,490. Mathematically, every person on the planet Earth was closer to Sharapova in the WTA rankings (6,490-0 = 6,490 points) than Sharapova was to Williams (13,161-6,490 = 6,671 points).
posted by Etrigan at 10:15 AM on December 14, 2015 [22 favorites]


Am I misreading that quote?

Yes, they're talking about the odd and broad range of extracurricular experiences she's had, not about her.
posted by psoas at 10:17 AM on December 14, 2015 [3 favorites]


Am I a bad person because I read the comments and loved them. Highly recommended! Why would you avoid witnessing butthurt misogynistic bigots. It's hilarious.
posted by Keith Talent at 10:20 AM on December 14, 2015 [1 favorite]


Also, "sportsperson" seems weird and clunky - why wouldn't "athlete" work?
posted by psoas at 10:21 AM on December 14, 2015 [1 favorite]


Also, "sportsperson" seems weird and clunky - why wouldn't "athlete" work?

Well, it used to be "sportsman". Also, if you look at the history, you'll see that it's more "person(s) involved in the world of sports", rather than "person(s) who does sports".
posted by sideshow at 10:27 AM on December 14, 2015 [1 favorite]


It's sportsperson so that they have the option to award it to a coach such as Don Schula in '93.
posted by cmfletcher at 10:27 AM on December 14, 2015 [1 favorite]


The award has been given out since 1954. Serena's only the third woman to win it solo. The last woman to do so was Mary Decker in 1983. Usually when women win they share the award with men.

Her record this year was 53-3. She's won 21 Grand Slam titles in her career. And she's embracing the power that her money and celebrity gives her to support those in need. Good for her!
posted by zarq at 10:28 AM on December 14, 2015 [6 favorites]


The Horse People Are Mad Online

Actually, it's about ethics in sports journalism.
posted by zombieflanders at 10:35 AM on December 14, 2015 [12 favorites]


Is there anybody who even tangentially follows sports who thinks that there's another currently-active athlete who deserves this award more than Serena? She has dominated her sport in a way that few humans have dominated any field.

Novak Djokovic? He arguably had a better year than Serena. He matched her three Grand Slam titles and lost in the finals of the fourth (whereas she lost in a semifinal). He didn't get as much talk about it because he lost the second Slam instead of the last one.

Beyond that, he won twice as many titles and set records for reaching the finals of and winning Masters 1000 tournaments. Of course, not being American he was never really a candidate for SI's award.

Pointing strictly to Serena's on-court accomplishments is missing the forest for the trees wrt. Sportsperson of the Year: it's as equally about where an athlete fits into the zeitgeist and broader culture.

With that said, I don't know any reasonable person could have thought anyone BUT Serena should have been awarded the honour. After she won Wimbeldon the hype around her was unreal, both as an athlete and as a black woman navigating a traditionally white male space. I'm only surprised that given the performances of Ronda Rousey, the USWNT and Serena, it wasn't given to (American) Women in Sports.
posted by The Notorious SRD at 10:37 AM on December 14, 2015


Actually, it's about ethics in sports journalism.

What's really laughable is trying to associate either the notions of ethics or journalism with Sports Illustrated.

To be fair, the last Triple Crown winner was in 1978 - so 37 years to replicate. The last woman to win the calendar year grand slam was Steffi Graf in 1988 - so 27 years and counting. Don't even need to leave tennis - Novak Djokovic had a better 2015; also 3 slam wins, a competitive finals loss at the one he didn't win instead of some weird straight set loss in the semis, and a fairly frightening/dominating win at the year end finals over the best players in the world.

Regardless, a lot of verbiage over an award that seems to go out of its way to get it wrong (previous winners). There are some very strange picks in there - for example, Orel Hershiser in 1988 over Graf, really? Arguably Serena's 2002 season was better than 2015 (3 slams and year end finals), but Lance Armstrong got the nod.

On preview: list does makes much more sense if characterized as best sports performance for an American that year.
posted by NoRelationToLea at 10:39 AM on December 14, 2015 [1 favorite]


I'm conflicted. It's a stunning photograph of an awesome, well-deserving woman, but I think that particular photo belongs on the cover of Vanity Fair or GQ etc. rather than this particular issue of SI. There's nothing relating to her sport in the picture whatsoever; there isn't a tennis racket, tennis ball, net, court, or uniform anywhere to be seen. Looking only at the photograph without the headline, she is presented as an attractive woman rather than a tennis player.

Compare to:
2014 (San Francisco Giants pitcher Madison Bumgarner, photographed in his uniform)
2013 (Denver Broncos QB Payton Manning, photographed in his uniform and holding a football)
2012 (LeBron James, basketball player photographed in a suit but extremely prominently displaying his NBA championship ring)
2011 (Pat Summit and Mike Krzyzewski, basketball coaches, photographed in suits (arguably their uniforms!) and holding basketballs)
2010 (New Orleans Saints QB Drew Brees, photographed in his uniform prominently worn under a coat/suit(?)).
1999 (U.S Women's Soccer Team, photographed in uniforms)

I guess if a woman wins with a man (Pat Summit) or a whole group of women win (soccer team), then its more obvious that the photo should be a sports-centric picture than if it's an individual woman. Or maybe this is just their new thing and next year we'll get a tantalizing photo of a 2016 Sportsman of the Year lying in front of a fireplace on a bearskin rug.
posted by gatorae at 10:45 AM on December 14, 2015 [11 favorites]


Actually, it's about ethics in horse-sports journalism.
posted by signal at 10:46 AM on December 14, 2015


HORSE ethics in horse-sports journalism. Not necessarily by horses.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 10:47 AM on December 14, 2015


Is there anybody who even tangentially follows sports who thinks that there's another currently-active athlete who deserves this award more than Serena? She has dominated her sport in a way that few humans have dominated any field.


Lewis Hamilton, Stephen Curry, and Ronda Rousey (pre-Holm fight) would also be deserving.

e: oh and the USNWT.
posted by gyc at 10:54 AM on December 14, 2015


Compare to:
...
2013 (Denver Broncos QB Payton Manning, photographed in his uniform and holding a football)


To be fair, Manning probably wears his uniform and holds a football in his sleep.
posted by Etrigan at 10:57 AM on December 14, 2015 [5 favorites]


On preview: list does makes much more sense if characterized as best sports performance for an American that year.

Well, it is an American sports magazine primarily covering American sports. It's rare that track and association football players make the cover.
posted by dw at 10:58 AM on December 14, 2015


If you read the comments (and yeah, they're a cesspool,) one of the things a handful of people raised was their displeasure at Serena's apparent lack of humility. Never mind the fact that the article explained in detail why she literally refused to go to Indian Wells for a decade and a half, apparently she's not genuflecting enough.

Earlier this year, there were a couple of essays published about Kanye West's public persona, which delved a bit into his perceived arrogance / humility.

Buzzfeed: In Defense Of Kanye’s Vanity: The Politics Of Black Self-Love.
"This isn’t about ego; this is about boldly asserting yourself in a world that is not meant for you. This is a vanity that is rooted in bringing the community up with you. To the ire of some who are so wrapped up in the anxiety of respectability, the message he gives the kids (in front of all these white folks who are listening to his music!) is not to be modest but to unapologetically laugh in the face of a world that does not care about them. The joke’s on you, white America. We made it, and we don’t even have the decency to be grateful. We’re laughing. We dare to laugh."

Pitchfork: Op-Ed: On Kanye West and Black Humility:
"How many conversations have you had with people where they refer to a confident black man as "self-important" while a white man gets an adjective like "brash"? Do you have friends or family members who have clearly called out Kanye himself as an "arrogant ass" after one of his bold statements? Why does it only seem to happen to artists of color? Like, when Noel Gallagher says something self-aggrandizing, most of us just laugh it off as "Noel being Noel." But Kanye could say the exact same thing and it invokes a level-three shitstorm among those he rubs the wrong way.

Confident black men are constantly held under by society, frequently told to not say much and accept what society (i.e. the whims of white men in power) gives us. This is a tactic to hold us "in place," to make sure we don’t "overstep our boundaries" (i.e. gain a level of influence as to overthrow the people in power, which, again, are a bunch of white dudes). We as black men are treated as secondary, even though our efforts have created some of the greatest art forms our society has been given. And when we hold onto our dignity by believing in ourselves, we are conditioned to hold it at a distance so as not to upset those nebulous powers that be.

Because if we black people actually did show the full confidence of a generation of trendsetters (jazz, rock'n'roll, hip-hop, fashion, visual art, and a plethora of other mediums of art), it would disrupt the status of white men as the gatekeepers of American culture. They would prefer we didn’t believe in ourselves so they could give us little slivers of praise and award the real accolades to white artists who have half the talent and cultural cachet in order to bring them up. We as black men are always under the white man’s thumb, but Kanye West created a body of work to where he could escape."
Personally, I think the charge that she's not humble enough is ridiculous. But whether she is or not, the complaint smacks of racism. They might as well call her uppity and remove all doubt of their bias against her.
posted by zarq at 10:58 AM on December 14, 2015 [27 favorites]


Lewis Hamilton
Give it to the Mercedes-Petronas design team over Hamilton. They built a car wit a split tubro that was so much of an advantage over the rest of the field it I gave up watching. Week after week of Hamilton vs Rosberg got really dull.
posted by cmfletcher at 11:04 AM on December 14, 2015 [1 favorite]


As for American sports mammals, I think American Pharaoh would have been a great choice. I also think Serena is a great choice. As would have been the USWNT or Stephen Curry. I have no beef; she's had a hell of a year.

But it's 2015, and there are clickbait polls and whiny white men and social media, so here we are.

Similar thing happened with the Time person of the year: Angela Merkel was chosen by Time (again, great choice of many great options), but Bernie Sanders won the online clickbait poll, so all the Sanders supporters were ranting online.
posted by dw at 11:07 AM on December 14, 2015


Also, Serena deserved to win this award. Everyone else, two or four legged, was a runner up.
posted by cmfletcher at 11:08 AM on December 14, 2015


Props to Serena Williams.

Also, horse law/ethics is just like bird law:
It's not governed by reason.
posted by hal_c_on at 11:21 AM on December 14, 2015 [2 favorites]


Give it to the Mercedes-Petronas design team over Hamilton. They built a car wit a split tubro that was so much of an advantage over the rest of the field it I gave up watching.

F1 is pretty much an engineering design competition. Not that that's a bad thing.
posted by rocket88 at 11:27 AM on December 14, 2015


> Novak Djokovic? He arguably had a better year than Serena.

In strict terms of on-paper accomplishments, I too think Novak had a better year than Serena, but when you factor in the wider context surrounding her run this year, it's really hard to argue against this decision. From the fact that she's doing what she's doing at her age to her place in the active dialogue about race (and women) in America, I don't think any other individual can pretend to have shaped the spacetime of sports to the degree that she has this year.

> I'm conflicted... she is presented as an attractive woman rather than a tennis player.

Serena loves this kinda shit though! Her Instagram is full of racy poses on the beach, flamboyant evening gowns, her showing off how strong and flexible she is in various revealing wear... It's healthy to have a basic suspicion against this, but if that's the way a woman would like to present herself, there should also be room for that too I guess. Serena strikes me as far too powerful and experienced a woman to be passively fooled in to anything, so I wouldn't be surprised if it turned out she actually refused to be boringly photographed with sports gear when she could have more fun.
posted by procrastinator at 12:02 PM on December 14, 2015 [4 favorites]


F1 is pretty much an engineering design competition. Not that that's a bad thing.

Yes, but - Hamilton really stepped it up this year (at least before the driver's championship was wrapped up).

Also: Katie Ledecky would like a word as she's pretty much warping spacetime, not just shifting it. In fact, other publications picked her over all others (including American Pharoah, Serena, etc.) in August - even accounting for Serena's predicted win at Flushing Meadows.
posted by NoRelationToLea at 12:41 PM on December 14, 2015 [1 favorite]


The thing I find most interesting about Serena Williams is how rare it is to find anyone mentioning steroids/HGH use. I mean this is an athlete who hid in her panic room to avoid a drug test. Is tennis a sport where they don't care that much about PEDs? Or is she like Lance Armstrong used to be, too sacred to accuse?
posted by Sternmeyer at 12:44 PM on December 14, 2015 [1 favorite]


You know how it sometimes feel like women can "never win" no matter what they choose? I feel like this cover shows that if the viewer is a decently reasonable (ie not racist) person, Serena can't lose, no matter how she wants to be photographed.

In an action shot? She'd look powerful.
In her uniform? She'd look powerful and athletic.
In a glamour shot? She'd look powerful and gorgeous.
In a fashion shot? She'd look powerful and stylish.

This is an insane goddamn picture - it is the literal interpretation of a power pose. This photo is what you use to help people immediately understand what the kids on the internet mean by "YAAAS QUEEN" or "like a boss".

(Okay. I'm done fangirling. But seriously, if a guy with a pointy tail asked me to sign a contract in exchange for being able to command a photo like that, I'd whip out a pen on the spot.)
posted by synapse at 12:44 PM on December 14, 2015 [5 favorites]


Some folks on my FB feed are purturbed that SW has been sexually objectified by SI in ways they believe men would not have been. The cover, in particular, is drawing a lot of complaints about obvious photoshopping. Not sure what to make of this but Serena was a good pick imo.
posted by stupidsexyFlanders at 12:47 PM on December 14, 2015


Novak Djokovic? He arguably had a better year than Serena.

Yeah, but did he have that year more than a decade after an equally great year?
posted by straight at 12:48 PM on December 14, 2015 [1 favorite]



The award has been given out since 1954. Serena's only the third woman to win it solo....
posted by zarq at 12:28 PM on December 14


Time, Sports Illustrated, and Entertainment Weekly all named as their Person of this Year an individual woman (Angela Merkel and Jennifer Lawrence were the other 2, for those keeping track.) First time that's happened.
posted by themanwho at 2:47 PM on December 14, 2015 [4 favorites]


The thing I find most interesting about Serena Williams is how rare it is to find anyone mentioning steroids/HGH use. I mean this is an athlete who hid in her panic room to avoid a drug test.

What? Cite, please...
posted by hal_c_on at 3:09 PM on December 14, 2015


I really liked the image of her from the Pirelli calendar from a few weeks back. To me that photo is drop dead stunning because it's an exemplar of that Greek statue idealized beauty of form and strength.

Regardless, she's a force, playing through at a high level and at an age when most sports greats are on the rapid decline. There will always be an argument that could be made for any number of winners when you're choosing this sort of award. Nothing surprising about that and she's sure as hell deserving of the award.
posted by drewbage1847 at 3:24 PM on December 14, 2015 [2 favorites]


halcyon this i believe is what that panic room incident was about...
posted by ramix at 3:30 PM on December 14, 2015


What? Cite, please...

In truth, everyone on both men's and women's tours is suspect as tennis' doping controls are pretty poor. That said, this story is not hard to find:

Sports Illustrated
Salon

FWIW, swimming instituted biological passport testing in 2011. Which makes what Ledecky's doing even that much more amazing.
posted by NoRelationToLea at 3:30 PM on December 14, 2015 [1 favorite]


Is there anybody who even tangentially follows sports who thinks that there's another currently-active athlete who deserves this award more than Serena?

Carli Lloyd. Are you sure you're following sports even tangentially?
posted by Brocktoon at 4:10 PM on December 14, 2015


Sure Novak's season is comparable but as he is not American his chances of winning were essentially zero.

*Gretzky
posted by Cosine at 4:11 PM on December 14, 2015


"Looking only at the photograph without the headline, she is presented as an attractive woman rather than a tennis player. "

Serena suggested the cover styling as how she WANTED to be represented.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 6:32 PM on December 14, 2015 [3 favorites]


I don't want to see a picture of her sitting down. I want to see a picture of her holding a sword shouting at the sky.
posted by Sphinx at 8:48 PM on December 14, 2015


She does that all the time! Let her savor it for a second.

Great choice. Great woman. Great athlete. Great SportsPERSON. Great photo.

I'm thrilled.
posted by metasav at 11:17 PM on December 14, 2015 [1 favorite]


In my mind, what both Serena Williams and Katie Ledecky are showing us is that the gains by American women since Title IX are still continuing and that we still don't have a clue what women in general are actually capable of. Every year, more girls are participating in sports who even in my post-Title IX generation probably wouldn't have. And occasionally that yields a phenomenal talent who a generation ago might have been allowed to participate in a "girl appropriate" sport, and maybe only that until puberty, and two generations ago wouldn't have been allowed to play at all. Even now, women in tennis for no apparent reason play shorter matches than men. Does anyone really think Serena couldn't keep up or would be any less dominant if she played 5 sets per match?

Imagine a world like the one my mom grew up in, where Katie Ledecky could have chosen between ballet and half-court basketball (because running the whole court is too much for girls). Realize that she is now one of the fastest swimmers in the world, male or female. And then tell me that we know what women can achieve.
posted by hydropsyche at 5:01 AM on December 15, 2015 [3 favorites]


So, professional concern troll Rick Morrissey is so very concerned about the message that Serena Williams is sending by being confidently sexy on the cover of SI.

One of the Deadspin commenters has an excellent solution, though:

If you want to have a lot of fun, combine stupid takes by replacing all references to Serena with American Pharaoh in Morrisey’s article..

It’ll read like a guy trying very hard to explain his sexual attraction to a horse.

posted by NoxAeternum at 11:47 AM on December 16, 2015 [3 favorites]


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