Serena Williams' unretouched magazine photos are glorious

Already an inspiration to millions of impressionable women, Serena Williams fronting the cover of an influential magazine in shots that haven't been touched up is further proof that in 2019, we need more like her


What's to say that hasn't already been said about the inspiration that is Serena Williams? She is tennis royalty; currently dominating at Wimbledon, her athleticism is mesmerising to watch. She seems unstoppable but because she's been so open about trying to balance being a mother and returning to her career after what she said was the difficult birth of her daughter, we know that, like us, she's simply giving it her all.

It isn't news that Williams - a 23-time Grand Slam winner - should appear on a magazine cover (she's appeared on many over the years), but what is especially significant about William's appearance on the upcoming August cover of Harper's Bazaar is that the photos - including the cover shot - are unretouched.

 

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Related: Serena Williams makes feminist statement with custom-made tennis outfit

Her incredible, enviable physique is beautifully raw and unvarnished amidst beautiful designer gowns and we can glimpse the finer details which, usually photoshop would do away with: a scar on her right leg, two moles on the left side of her face.

To see such a woman of influence share her images as they were meant to be seen is refreshing - and all the more given the filtered 'reality' we're exposed to on social media.

 

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Body shaming

For an essay in the magazine, she shared how controversies over her body shape have played into how she's been treated in the world of tennis. Sexism, she said was a natural part of her world.

"As a teenager, I was booed by an entire stadium (I took the high road and even thanked those who didn't want to see me win). I've been called every name in the book. I've been shamed because of my body shape," she said. "I've been paid unequally because of my sex. I've been penalised a game in the final of a major because I expressed my opinion or grunted too loudly."

Related: Emotions and the workplace: 'A few tears and I'm perceived as hysterical'

She recalled the controversy at the finals of the 2018 U.S. Open, where she got into a heated dispute with an umpire. Williams was handed code violations that she felt was unfair, and then hit with a game penalty for verbal abuse after she confronted the male umpire. She felt sexism was at the core of the confrontation.

 ..."I tell him he is penalizing me for being a woman. He responds by issuing a third violation and takes a game from me... I felt defeated and disrespected by a sport that I love — one that I had dedicated my life to and that my family truly changed, not because we were welcomed, but because we wouldn’t stop winning."

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Williams spoke again of the sexist labelling women are frequently reduced to when they express an option with emotion or passion.

"This debacle ruined something that should have been amazing and historic. Not only was a game taken from me but a defining, triumphant moment was taken from another player... I started to think again, “What could I have done better? Was I wrong to stand up? Why is it that when women get passionate, they’re labelled emotional, crazy, and irrational, but when men do they’re seen as passionate and strong?”

 

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"In short, it’s never been easy. But then I think of the next girl who is going to come along who looks like me, and I hope, ‘Maybe, just maybe, my voice will help her.’”

"This incident exemplified how thousands of women in every area of the workforce are treated every day," she continued. "We are not allowed to have emotions, we are not allowed to be passionate. We are told to sit down and be quiet, which frankly is just not something I’m okay with. It’s shameful that our society penalises women just for being themselves.

Ever since I was a little girl, I’ve felt a need to voice my opinion and be heard. Some may not like it, and to be honest, that’s their prerogative. Growing up as the youngest of five girls, I learned that I had to fight for everything I wanted. And I won’t ever stop raising my voice against injustice."

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Main photograph: @TheUndefeated

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