Serena image sparks furious fan reaction
Serena Williams has once again found herself in the middle of another social media storm after appearing on the front cover of GQ magazine.
The internationally-acclaimed men's publication, understandably trying its best to appease a wider range of readers, picked the 37-year-old tennis champ as its Woman of the Year for 2018.
The honour - last won by actor Gal Gadot in 2017 - didn't sit well with a number of ardent Serena fans, who took to social media to tear into GQ for placing quotation marks around the word "woman".
Some critics claimed the use of the inverted commas were linked to ugly accusations surrounding the 23-time grand slam champion's gender.
"Someone I follow pointed out that @GQMagazine decided to put woman in quotes on Serena's cover and I too am offended and disgusted knowing the gender slights and digs people still throw at @serenawilliams," one furious Twitter user posted.
A quick Google search of designer Virgil Abloh - who is credited as the handwriter on the front page under Williams' name - suggests the critics may have misfired in their social media storm. The world famous designer's use of quotation marks has become a trademark of his work. It has even been suggested he copyright his "unique" style.
It's not the first time Williams has been the topic of heated public debate this year.
A blow-up at the chair umpire during her US Open final with Naomi Osaka split opinions around the world over whether she saw treated unfairly because of her gender.
The controversy rose to melting point when Herald Sun cartoonist published a caricature of the US star having a tantrum while jumping on her racket.
The debate stems from ongoing attacks against the nine-figure star over her muscular physique. In early 2018, Williams looked back on a career of constant jabs from offensive fans.
"People would say I was born a guy, all because of my arms, or because I'm strong," she told Business Insider in June. "I was different to Venus: She was thin and tall and beautiful, and I am strong and muscular - and beautiful, but, you know, it was just totally different."
She also wrote a heartfelt letter to her mother last year after becoming a mother, briefly touching on accusations over drug use.
"I've been called man because I appeared outwardly strong," she wrote. "It has been said that that I use drugs (No, I have always had far too much integrity to behave dishonestly in order to gain an advantage). 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 badass body and proud of it)."