GQ named Serena Williams's 2018 Female of the Year on Monday, but was in warm water for a controversial design choice featured on the tennis star star's blanket.
The magazine annually publishes a list of men this year for December, and began to include women among honoree's year 2003. This year, the magazine released four covers – one with Williams and three others with this year's men Michael B. Jordan, Henry Golding and Jonah Hill.
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On Williams's lap, she is safe in a long-sleeved black turtleneck bodysuit. In the font, the word "Men" in the Year of the Year was crossed, with the word "Woman" written in handwritten fonts on the spot – and insert quotation marks.
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Critics accused the newspaper of spitting Williams, with some pointing out GQIts former Female of the Year's cover did not have the word in quotation marks.
Although GQ did not respond immediately to PEOPLE's request for comments, said Mick Rouse, a newspaper research director, on Twitter that the cover was handwritten by Virgil Abloh of Off-White. The artist, who also designed Williams & # 39; U.S. Open clothes often writes words as he writes in quotation marks.
Despite Rouse's explanation, some people were still frustrated by the details, considering that Williams has previously talked about being called a man because of her muscles.
Last year, she wrote in an open letter on reddit: "I have been called man because I looked out loud … It has been said that I do not belong to women's sports-that I belong to men – because I look stronger than many other women do. (No, I'm just working hard and I'm born with this baddass body and proud of it.) "
On Twitter Tuesday, a user wrote: "Given the insults she has treated over the years, one would think to put the woman in quotes, @virgilabloh" thing "or not, would rub controversy. Anyway, nobody likes it here the woman down! @serenawilliams is a SUPER woman anyway! ❤? "
"This context definitely helps," said another. [But] It's definitely off putting especially for an athlete who has been criticized for not being female / not a real woman in all kinds of racist and problematic ways. "
Tweeted another: "I can not believe anyone GQ Perhaps thought of the misogynistic and violent persecution that Serena (and Venus) dealt with in the last 20 years, not to put the woman in quotation marks. Editorial rooms are a disaster, all over the country. … I'm insulted to her. "
Williams has not talked about controversy yet.
Earlier this month Williams told us Adweek She often turns the negative attention on her life and actions into something positive – for her, her fans and her company.
"I only feel like sometimes, for whatever reason, all that I reinforce, and so I use it for my brand," she told the publication for her 5th cover story, where she named her 2018 Brand Visionary. "I use it to promote messages that are affirmative, like" you are strong, brave, proud, good "and all the things I like that I can not express playing tennis but can also be expressed in my fashion line and others products. "
In addition to being a professional athlete, Williams has launched its own model line called "Serena" and has collaborated with some of the largest brands in the industry, from Nike to Puma to HSN. She is also a writer, activist and mom of 1 year old daughter Alexis Olympia with husband and Reddit founder Alexis Ohanian.