Serena Williams is impossible to ignore. Her journey from Compton tennis courts to the world stage has been met with both fervent fans and detractors. The athlete has been booed by an entire stadium, called a man by competitors and referred to as unsportsmanlike. But despite the naysayers, Williams continues on her steadfast path to greatness with 71 singles championships, nearly 1,000 victories and two decades on the court. Whether you love her or hate her, there is no doubt that Serena Williams is fierce.
Even with her surprising loss at the U.S. Open, nothing could derail 2016 as Williams’ coronation year. Between launching a fashion line and tying Steffi Graf’s record for Grand Slam singles titles at Wimbledon, Williams has ascended to the status of a cultural icon: Her matches are attended by celebrity elite; her joyful confidence radiates alongside Beyoncé in the singer’s visual album “Lemonade”; and her muscular frame graces magazine covers.
According to Getty Images’ Director of Visual Trends Pam Grossman, Williams’ ascendance points to a broader movement.
“She shows womanhood in all of its complexity,” Grossman said. “Serena gets angry. She’s celebratory. She’s proud of herself. She wants to make a positive impact on the world. There are all these different facets of her, and she doesn’t apologize for any of them.”