The 37-year-old, called “The Champion” by the magazine, features in one of four covers of December’s ‘Men of the Year’ issue wearing a black long-sleeve turtleneck leotard.
GQ, which first made women part of its Men of the Year honorees in 2003, included the American alongside actors Michael B Jordan, Henry Golding and Jonah Hill.
GQ’s cover has sparked controversy on Twitter, however. Many users seemed unaware that the typography was handwritten by designer Virgil Abloh, who uses quotation marks in his work. Abloh collaborated with Williams and Nike for the player’s US Open outfit which featured “Serena” in quotations on her trainers and “Logo” on her tutu dress.
GQ has not responded to CNN, but in a Twitter thread Mick Rouse, research manager for GQ, according to his Twitter bio, tweeted: “Because it was handwritten by Virgil Abloh of Off-White, who has styled everything in quotation marks as of late (see Serena’s US Open apparel that he designed).”
Last year, in an open letter on reddit, Williams wrote about being called a man because of her muscular physique, writing: “I’ve been called man because I appeared outwardly strong … 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 baddass body and proud of it.)”