Serena Williams’ “Woman Of The Year” GQ Cover Sparks Controversy

As the saying goes, no good deed goes unpunished.

GQ Magazine switched things up a bit this year and decided to add tennis great, Serena Williams amongst those chosen for their annual Man of the Year issue.

Williams’ GQ cover shows the athlete sporting a black leotard with the words “Woman” of the year next to her. Since news broke, many people have criticized GQ for having the word women in quotations.

Y*S*A*N*N*E on Twitter

@GQMagazine Please explain to me why GQ Magazine’s Editorial Team felt that quote marks were necessary on the Serena Williams’ Woman of the Year Cover. I Really Really Need to Know. I’m Expecting an Answer😡🙄🤷🏽‍♀️🤔👎🏾👎🏾👎🏾👎🏾👎🏾

The quotations were meant to look like the handwriting of art director, Virgil Abloh. Virgil is also a frequent collaborator with Williams.

Mick Rouse, a research manager for GQ, addressed the issue via his Twitter page tweeting, “because it was handwritten by Virgil Abloh of Off-White, who has styled everything in quotation marks as of late, (see Serena’s US Open apparel that he designed).”

Anna Wagner on Twitter

@GQMagazine @michaelb4jordan @henrygolding @JonahHill @serenawilliams @virgilabloh Okay but why is woman in quotation marks @GQMagazine

Yet, critics further pointed out that when Gal Gadot was named Woman of the Year, the title didn’t come with any quotation marks.

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E. Alex Jung on Twitter


Serena is known to have addressed the issue of people calling her a man in the past, stating:

“I’ve been called a man because I appeared outwardly strong… It has been said I don’t belong in women’s sports–that I belong in men’s–because I look stronger than many other women do. (No, I just work hard and I was born with this baddass body and proud of it.)”

Serena hasn’t commented on the GQ cover.



Tabie is your friendly neighborhood transplant, currently attempting to live out the big New York dream. During my free time, I like to write stories and short essays. I also use this expensive thing I bought called a camera. I capture moments and the beautiful people I encounter. I live by the motto “collaboration over competition” because why waste energy bringing someone down when we can rise together. Manhattanville College Alum.