Serena Williams isn't one of the best female athletes of all time, she's one of the best athletes of all time.
"It isn’t always easy to be on the stage playing a tournament and have someone making a comment about your body," Williams told Motto in a recent interview. The criticism she hears most often? Her body is "too strong."
File that under "Things No One Would Ever Say About A Male Athlete."
A recent criticism came from fellow tennis player Maria Sharapova, who wrote in her new memoir that Williams' "physical presence is much stronger and bigger than you realise watching TV," adding that she "has thick arms and thick legs" and "hated [Sharapova] for being the skinny kid who beat her, against all odds." (She hasn't defeated Williams since 2004, but who's counting?)
Then there's the tweeter who claimed Williams' success is because she's "built like a man," who was shut down by Harry Potter author and feminist Twitter warrior J.K. Rowling.
Williams is candid about the fact that these comments are upsetting, especially because they reinforce sexist stereotypes that women's bodies are more important than their accomplishments. She's previously spoken out about the sexist double standards faced by she and her peers.
"I think the biggest criticism that, not only me, but my peers encounter is that there will be someone saying we don't deserve as much money as our male counterparts," she said. "When you work so hard, you dedicate yourself. It shouldn't be a double standard."
On Black Women's Equal Pay Day in July, Williams addressed the issue of facing both racism and sexism. "I have been treated unfairly, I’ve been disrespected by my male colleagues, and —in the most painful times — I’ve been the subject of racist remarks on and off the tennis court," Williams said in a statement. "Through decades of systemic oppression, black women have been conditioned to think they are less than...These injustices still hurt."