And just like that, Serena Williams’ sex(y) new Twitter avatar is gone. Gone after maybe half a day, with the old picture of her in a tennis outfit back up. Someone must have gotten to her and suggested something about common sense and hypocrisy.
Last week, a man was arrested for allegedly stalking Williams, having gotten too close to her, too many times all over the country, even in her dressing room at Home Shopping Network. On Thursday, she has posted a new avatar on her Twitter page, a photo suggestive of us peeping at her through a lace curtain while she unknowingly looks the other way in white bra and panties.
It’s a sexy photo, she looks great and it’s not pornographic. To be honest, I would actually find it to be somewhat artistic if it weren’t for the serious business of stalking women. What was her message anyway? What was she trying to say? Just this: Look at me.
Instead, what she was saying was this: Peep at me, but don’t stalk me.
Williams has masterfully branded herself, now as a celebrity tennis player and not a tennis playing celebrity. The brand is to sell sex now, with tennis as an afterthought, if that. And the way she does it is to walk right up to the line and push it a little, take half a step over it. Give her credit: No tennis player can get people talking the way she can.
(If she’s still a tennis player).
Women’s tennis has been selling sex for decades. And this avatar — even just the talk of it –and all of Williams’ other sex(y) photos and videos lately will draw more TV viewers to women’s tennis than Francesca Schiavone emotionally kissing the red clay at Roland Garros. With women’s tennis a little boring now, sex is selling the sport more than the game is selling itself.
Still, Anna Kournikova, Maria Sharapova and Ana Ivanovic photos are never quite as gritty as Serena’s. First, she did the video game commercial in thigh highs and black leotard. Next, the bright pink body suit on the practice court. And now this.
I’m guessing Erin Andrews might be uncomfortable with the Twitter avatar, having had a stalker peep at her in her hotel room through the peephole. This view of Serena might not be too far off of what he saw of Andrews.
Whatever, Williams is so much bigger than women’s tennis now that she can hijack the game just by producing occasional photos of herself like this. By the way, in secondary Serena news, she also pulled out of the French Open Thursday, as she continues to recover from blood clots found on her lung. So the focus will go to the other players, such as No. 1 Caroline Wozniacki.
Hah! The focus will be wherever Serena says. With that power, and over two million Twitter followers, does come some responsibility. Fortunately, someone figured that out, even if it was a little too late.
I can talk tennis all day long, and often do. And yet some of the people I talk to about it might rather I talk about something else.
Or with someone else.
That’s how it is with tennis, right? Sort of an addiction. Sort of a high.
I am a national columnist at FoxSports.com and a FoxSports1 TV insider, and have been a columnist at the Chicago Sun-Times.
In 2010, I was the only American sports writer to cover the full two weeks of all four majors, and also to cover each of the U.S. Masters series events.
I’ve seen a lot of tennis, talked with a lot of players, coaches, agents.
I watched from a few rows behind the line judge as Serena rolled her foot onto the baseline for the footfault, a good call, at the 2009 U.S. Open. I sat forever watching a John Isner marathon, leaving for Wimbledon village to watch an England World Cup soccer game at a pub and then returning for hours of Isner, sitting a few feet from his wrecked coach.
I got to see Novak Djokovic and Robin Soderling joke around on a practice court on the middle Sunday at Wimbledon, placing a small wager on a tiebreaker. Djokovic won, and Soderling pulled a bill out of his wallet, crumpled it into his fist and threw it at Djokovic, who unwadded it, kissed it, and told me, “My work is done here.’’
And when Rafael Nadal won the French Open in 2010, I finished my column, walked back out onto the court, and filled an empty tic tac container with the red clay. I’m looking at it right now.
Well, I don’t always see the game the same way others do. I can be hard on tennis, particularly on the characters in suits running it. Tennis has no less scandal and dirt than any other game. Yet somehow, it seems to be covered up, usually from an incredible web of conflicts of interest.
I promise to always tell the truth as I see it. Of course, I would appreciate it if you’d let me know when I’m wrong. I love sports arguments and hope to be in a few of them with you here.
Personal info: One-handed backhand, serve-and-volleyer.
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730 responses to “Serena Williams’ Message: Peep at me, but Don’t Stalk me? Here’s Reckless Twitter Pic, in Bra and Panties, she took down after Half Day”
Greg Couch is an award-winning sports columnist based in Chicago. He covers college football for BleacherReport.com, NFL for RollingStone.com and freelances at several other places, including The New York Times. Lots of tennis, mostly here. He has traveled the world covering tennis and is a member of the International Tennis Writers Association. A former sports columnist at the Chicago Sun-Times, his tennis writing has been in the book "The Best American Sportswriting."