The Tennis player Serena Williams has been named GQ Woman of the Year 2018.
Williams shares the honor with Director of the Year, Jonah Hill, as well as actors Henry Golding (Star of the Year) and Michael B. Jordan (Leader of the Year).
Critics said the magazine’s use of quotation marks around “woman” on Ms. Williams’s cover appeared to call into question her gender or her femininity, a trope with at least a touch of transphobia.
But not all of GQ’s readers — or the countless others who saw the cover in their social media feeds — were familiar with Mr. Abloh’s designs or his connection to Ms. Williams. To them, it was a conscious punctuation choice.
It might have gotten less notice if someone other than Ms. Williams, who has often discussed struggles with sexism, had been the honoree. Last year, in an open letter to her mother, she said she had been called a man “because I appeared outwardly strong.”
Talking about the GQ Woman of the Year 2018 awarded to the tennis star, the magazine said:
“No matter how you cut it, Serena Williams had a remarkable year. Jeanne-Marie Laskas visits the G.O.A.T. at her Florida home to hear about the U.S. Open moment heard around the world, along with Serena’s plans for the future, her thoughts on Brett Kavanaugh’s Supreme Court appointment, and what it’s like to be a black woman in America in 2018.
All that, plus GQ worked up a special surprise cover collaboration with Virgil Abloh—the Off-White designer behind her coolest on-court looks in 2018—featuring his signature quotation marks in his own handwriting.”
GQ will roll out the four cover stories throughout the week, starting with “Michael B. Jordan Will Be King,” followed by Golding’s on Tuesday, Hill’s on Wednesday and concluding with Serena’s on Thursday.
Announcing GQ's Men (and Woman) of the Year 2018: @michaelb4jordan, @henrygolding, @jonahhill, and @serenawilliams (featuring handwriting by @virgilabloh) https://t.co/EpG3lKCJ3r #GQMOTY pic.twitter.com/6MgczSxSpq
— GQ Magazine (@GQMagazine) November 12, 2018