Remember when Serena Williams was an awesome tennis player who slammed forehands and won championships? It's actually a little hard to recall that, at one time, she was just a phenomenal athlete, not a media sensation. It would seem that Serena, who's currently not playing any tennis due to a foot injury, wants us to see her first as sexy mogul, second as powerhouse athlete.
Serena recently did an ad for 2k Sports, promoting their Top Spin 4 video game. Serena plays "tennis" (I mean she holds the Wii-like wand and swings) in a skin-tight leotard, knee-high boots, and heavy makeup. I thought the video was a joke, some sort of a spoof, but it's not.
Serena just throws caution, and any amount of clothing that might have been on her body, into the wind and goes for it, hard, in the ad. There's even the sound of her tennis grunt played on repeat, which, in this context, sounds very sexual.
If you think I'm making a mountain out of a molehill here about a sports star using sex to sell an endorsement, it turns out that even the company behind the ad, 2K Sports, is distancing themselves. They said:
As part of the process for creating marketing campaigns to support our titles, we pursue a variety of creative avenues. This video is not part of the title's final marketing campaign and its distribution was unauthorized.
2K Sports was going to can the ad, and rightfully so, but someone leaked it on to YouTube. Is Serena upset about the leak? Nah. In fact, she likes the ad so much that she re-posted it on her official YouTube page. I guess it's good she stands behind her work since she clearly knew what she was getting into when filming the spot half-naked, but that's about the only thing I can get behind here.
On the one hand, it's such a statement to see a female athlete being used to target the young male demographic who buys video games, but on the other hand, darn -- why'd the ad have to be more about sex than the sport? Seems like Serena is selling sex to stay relevant, since she's not playing these days. And while sex sells, I guess in some ways I wish we could separate that from female sports -- keep it more about the game and the athlete herself, rather than the athlete's short skirt or big rack.
What do you think of Serena's ad?