Serena Williams is GQ's Woman of the Year. Er, wait, she's the magazine's "Woman" of the Year? The magazine included quotation marks around the word "woman" (which was above the crossed-out word "men") on its cover featuring the tennis star, and people are not happy. "Serena has been misgendered and had the vilest, most transphobic, misogynoirist things said to her because of her body," reads one sample tweet explaining the problem with the quote marks. Williams has spoken in the past about being called a man or shamed for her muscular body, Today notes. But GQ had noted that the "woman" on the cover was in designer Virgil Abloh's handwriting; as HypeBeast explains, the quote marks are a signature of his. After the controversy erupted, GQ staffer Mick Rouse also weighed in.
"It quite literally has tags/quotations around it because that’s Virgil’s own style/branding, including in his partnership with Nike and Serena herself. That’s the only 'message' behind it," he tweeted, adding that Abloh "has styled everything in quotation marks as of late (see Serena's US Open apparel that he designed)." Many weren't convinced, however, with some calling it "tone deaf" or noting that it lacked "context" and should have been done differently. "in the context of serena williams, a person who has been mocked for her appearance and deliberately misgendered for years... this aint it, virgil," says another commenter. (Williams has also been named a "disruptor.")