The US edition of GQ has found itself in some strife after its latest cover, featuring tennis legend Serena Williams, was called out as “misogynistic” and insulting to transgender people.
Williams fronts the magazine’s annual Men of the Year list, with the tennis champ being awarded its sole Women of the Year gong.
The cover features the words “Men of the Year” crossed out and replaced by “Woman” in black marker.
However, Williams’s fans are suggesting the use of the inverted commas around the word could be linked to accusations surrounding the 23-time grand slam champion’s gender.
Williams has also had to dismiss accusations of drug use throughout her career due to her powerful game.
Fans of the tennis legend – regarded as the greatest sportswoman ever – were quick to lambast the magazine over the cover wording.
“I can’t believe no one at GQ thought perhaps with misogynistic and violent trans insults that Serena (and Venus) have dealt with for the last almost 20 years, to not put woman in quotation marks,” one person wrote.
“Editorial rooms are a fucking disaster, all over this country. I’m offended for her,” wrote another.
“@GQMagazine decided to put woman in quotes on Serena’s cover and I too am offended and disgusted knowing the gender slights and digs people still throw at @serenawilliams.”
“In the context of Serena Williams, a person who has been mocked for her appearance and deliberately misgendered for years… this ain’t it,” said another.
GQ is yet to publicly comment on the controversy.
Only last year, Williams herself used a Reddit post to her mother to again dismiss the rumours that have dogged her career.
“I’ve been called [a] man because I appeared outwardly strong,” Williams wrote.
“It has been said that that I use drugs. (No, I have always had far too much integrity to behave dishonestly in order to gain an advantage).
It has been said I don’t belong in women’s sports – that I belong in men’s – because I look stronger than many other women do. (No, I just work hard and I was born with this badass body and proud of it).
“But mom,” she continued, “I’m not sure how you did not go off on every single reporter, person, announcer and quite frankly, hater, who was too ignorant to understand the power of a black woman.”
Williams also addressed the issue in a Harper’s Bazaar interview in May.
“People would say I was born a guy, all because of my arms, or because I’m strong,” she told the magazine.
“I was different to Venus: She was thin and tall and beautiful, and I am strong and muscular — and beautiful, but, you know, it was just totally different.”