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Why this Serena Williams magazine cover is drawing criticism

TODAY logo TODAY 11/13/2018 Scott Stump
a close up of a womans face: Serena Williams GQ cover © @GQMagazine/Twitter Serena Williams GQ cover

A new GQ magazine cover featuring Serena Williams has caused backlash over body-shaming issues in what GQ is calling a misunderstanding.

The tennis legend was named the magazine's Woman of the Year on Monday, but the cover featuring the word "woman" in quotes has drawn criticism.

Williams was the Woman of the Year alongside GQ's Men of the Year: Jonah Hill, Michael B. Jordan and Henry Golding.

Putting the word "woman" in quotes struck some as a slight on Williams, who has spoken in the past about being called a man or not feminine enough by body-shamers because of her muscular frame.

Also, actress Gal Gadot, who was named Woman of the Year in 2017, did not get quotes around the word "woman."

However, GQ noted in its tweet about the covers that the handwriting on Williams' cover was by Virgil Abloh, the founder of the style brand Off-White and the artistic director of Louis Vuitton's menswear collection.

Abloh often puts everything in quotation marks, which was noted by GQ research manager Mick Rouse.

Abloh has designed previous Nike outfits and shoes for Williams that included words like "Logo" and "Serena" on them in quotation marks.

The argument over the cover resurfaced issues that Williams has addressed about critical comments she has heard over the years about her body.

After giving birth last year to daughter Alexis Olympia, she wrote a touching post thanking her own mother and acknowledging the body-shaming she has endured since she was a teen tennis prodigy.

Abloh and Williams had not issued any type of response to the cover controversy as of Tuesday morning. GQ did not immediately respond to request for comment.


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