Serena Williams, tennis player extraordinaire, was named Sports Illustrated’s 2015 Sportsperson of the Year. But the magazine cover, released on Monday, quickly prompted several controversies.
Fans wondered if her image had been Photoshopped, noting that her thighs looked much slimmer than in other photos, including a recent Pirelli shoot.
Today, a spokesperson for Sports Illustrated told HuffPost UK Lifestyle, “This story has no legs, period. We did nothing to change the integrity of the cover image or likeness of Serena Williams.”
Which isn’t quite the same as saying, “We did not Photoshop this image…” but it’s the only comment out there so far from Sports Illustrated.
The bigger question is, What is the obsession with William’s physique? This has been going on for nearly a decade.
Flashback six years ago when a Vibe Magazine cover appeared to have Photoshopped its cover image of Williams. Atlanta-based blogger Sandra Rose exposed the dirty deed when she said a snitch in Vibe’s art department told her the magazine made the decision to alter the images to make Williams’ body appear more feminine.
Now fast forward to July and the famous J.K. Rowlings intervention. The British author was so outraged by a Twitter troll who said Williams was “built like a man” that she tweeted back a picture of Williams in a red dress…definitely not looking like a man.
Then came the New York Times article that seemed to be critical of muscular female athletes like Williams by highlighting the female athletes who prefer to stay small and not bulk up to keep a certain body type.
Monday’s announcement set off yet another outrage when an LA Times poll asked readers to vote on whether Williams or the horse, American Pharoah, was the rightful recipient of the SI honor.
The newspaper later changed the title of that story/poll to clarify that it wasn’t making a comparison between Williams and a horse and changed the accompanying image.