For fifteen years, over two generations of tennis, Williams has been a spectacular and constant yet oddly uncherished national treasure. She is wealthy and famous, but it seems that she should be more famous, the most famous. Anyone who likes sports should love Williams’s dazzling combination of talent, persistence, style, unpredictability, poise, and outsized, heart-on-her-sleeve flaws.
But not everyone loves her. Part of this is owing to the duelling -isms of American prejudice, sexism, and racism, which manifest every time viewers, mostly men, are moved to remark on Williams’s body in a way that reveals what might most charitably be called discomfort