Serena Williams received much well-deserved admiration during the US Open last week as the iconic athlete competed in the final tournament of her professional tennis career.
As sports analysts look back on Williams’ illustrious career, they’re not just assessing her tennis ranking, they’re comparing her with historically great athletes in all sports, male and female. According to ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith, he puts Serena Williams and her athletic contributions ahead of Tiger Woods for an interesting reason.
“I’m going to say something that’s gonna be controversial, but it ain’t to me,” Smith said this week on First Take. “I put her ahead of Tiger because Tiger didn’t embrace his Blackness, she did and that brought more adversity her way. He did not. So people were more receptive to him. That counts FOR Serena in my opinion. And by the way, I don’t care what anybody says to refute that. I’m not listening.”
Woods has long embraced his multiracial identity, and during a 1997 interview with Oprah Winfrey, he infamously claimed he invented the term “Cablinasian” to describe being a mix of Caucasian, Black, (American) Indian, and Asian. Winfrey later asked Woods to clarify and the famous athlete explained he created the term as a child, but as an adult, he most identifies as African American and Asian. “Those are the two households I was raised under,” Woods told Winfrey during the 1997 interview.
Much like Michael Jordan, Woods has mostly followed a “stick to sports” approach when it comes to political, social, or racial issues within the United States. Williams, however, has been more vocal than Woods about racial issues and has shared support for the Black Lives Matter movement.
Despite the comparison by Smith, Williams and Woods share a nice friendship. Williams referred to Woods as her “big brother” when she sent him love following his gruesome car accident last year. And Woods was in attendance at the US Open last week to cheer Williams on during her final tournament.