Serena Williams may have just bowed out of the French Open due to an injury, but the tennis pro was still competing when she had to handle a reporter’s years-old question over the weekend.
During a press conference Saturday, June 2, Inside Tennis reporter Bill Simons — after calling Williams, “baby” — asked her if she had ever been intimidated by Maria Sharapova’s “supermodel good looks,” as now-President Donald Trump described them.
“I have been waiting about 14 years to ask you this question. After the 2004 Wimbledon match with Maria, I had the opportunity to interview Donald Trump on his L.A. golf course, and he said that Maria’s shoulders were incredibly alluring and then he came up with this incredible analysis: that you were intimidated by her supermodel good looks. My question is: have you ever been intimidated by anyone else on a tennis court, and what are your thoughts about that occurrence?”
In response, Williams simply said, “I honestly don’t have any thoughts about that. I can’t say I have been intimidated by anyone. That’s all. That’s it.”
I have never physically cringed as hard as when I read this in Serena’s transcript. Wow. pic.twitter.com/60wnSWG6En
— Jeff Donaldson (@jddtennis) June 2, 2018
The question was promptly blasted by fans — including Williams’ husband Alexis Ohanian.
“Talk about being unprofessional. This is on another level.”
“If you have to wait 14 years to ask that question? Maybe keep waiting. Insulting.”
“That reporter needs banning. It’s an insult to Serena who is more than good looking herself (which shouldn’t be a point anyway), and has proved she’s a fighter & a champion for the sport way more than Maria.”
“To paraphrase her dad, “She told y’all she wasn’t intimidated by anybody. Now, take that as the actual answer and move on.'”
Serena should have…. pic.twitter.com/b5liZnFb0U
— LisaH💟 #levelup (@lili_lh) June 3, 2018
Waited 14 years… for this?
Pro-top: wait at least another 14 more years before asking another question. https://t.co/2krgZPfXQy
— Alexis Ohanian Sr. 🚀 (@alexisohanian) June 3, 2018
In response to the backlash, the reported tweeted an apology saying he “so admires” Williams and noted he “spent [my] lifetime fighting racism/sexism/homophobia.”
I apologize if my awkward ques seemed 2 empower Trump or attack Serena/I SO admire her/I've spent lifetime fighting racism/sexism/homophobia.Started campaign 2 name US Open Stad 4 Ashe/Lobbied long 2 get Serena 2 return to I. Wells/Called out police violence vs Blake/I'm so sorry
— INSIDE TENNIS (@BillSimons1) June 4, 2018