I grimaced when Serena Williams did the “C-walk” after her legendary Olympic win on Sunday. I knew, although she had just crushed Russia’s Maria Sharapova to win her first singles gold medal (in two sets, score 6-0, 6-1), becoming only the second woman to complete a career Golden Slam, she had given her critics ammunition to shroud her extraordinary achievement in controversy.
And that they did. Fox News was among the first to criticize. Reid Forgrave writes:
“There was Serena – the tennis legend, the winner of 14 individual Grand Slams, the best player of her generation, the American girl being crowned at the All-England Club as the queen of tennis – Crip-Walking all over the most lily-white place in the world.”
“You couldn’t help but shake your head. It was as if Serena just couldn’t seem to avoid dipping into waters of controversy even as she’d ascended to the top of her sport.”
Jason Whitlock even went as far to say it would’ve been appropriate if tennis was a more urban sport:
Crip Walking inside an NBA arena that is routinely filled with the sounds of edited versions of popular gangsta rap songs is different from Crip Walking at Wimbledon. That fact has nothing to do with race. It has to do with tradition and atmosphere. Wimbledon is a sports church, falsely prim, proper and respectful.
Are people overreacting? The “C-walk” is a dance popularized in Serena Williams’ hometown of Compton, California. Though its origins have ties to gang affiliation, it has since become so common that you might catch your nephew doing it at the family barbecue. Does it mean Serena, who lost her own sister to gang violence, is suddenly promoting it? No.
There are more important instances of violence to worry about, one of which is the alleged suicide of Chavis Carter. Handcuffed in the back of a patrol car, Carter allegedly grew an extra set of hands and shot himself in the head, according to police.
But Chavis’ death has only began to get coverage outside of local and black media outlets. Serena’s highly-offensive “C-Walk,” however, is making headlines everywhere.
It’s easy to see why. It’s not violence that bothers Williams’ detractors so much as it is her dominance in a formerly white-dominated sport. To be sure, gang violence is certainly an important, ongoing issue in many of our communities. It’s just not the issue here.
In truth, her dance was nothing more than an opportunity for naysayers to take away from her outstanding sportsmanship and prowess. Instead of having to strictly report that she is the best female tennis player alive with a record unmatched in history, they could now dwell on the imagined implications of a 5-second dance.
Moreover, it’s a “gangsta” dance performed in “the most lily white” place in the world. How dare she dirty the Wimbledon grass with her offensive black culture!