Will Serena Williams’ Celebratory ‘Crip Walk’ Hurt Her Image?

Serena Williams of the United States serves against Maria Sharapova of Russia during the gold medal match of the Women's Singles Tennis. (Photo: Getty Images)

Serena Williams gave a masterful performance at the London 2012 Olympics Sunday, beating Maria Sharapova 6-0, 6-1 for the singles gold.

Barely able to contain her excitement, it seems, Williams broke into a “crip walk” made popular by gang members in her hometown of Compton, California in the 1970’s.

According to the Washington Post, MTV actually banned videos featuring the dance at one point because of its association with violence and murder, but it has become more mainstream in recent years.

Though the dance was brief, Serena managed to stir up quite a bit of controversy for how she expressed her excitement.

Here is video:

Fox Sports wrote:

She was in the city of kings and queens. People were sipping champagne and eating strawberries and cream. And Serena Williams had just ascended to the throne of tennis, becoming the second woman after Steffi Graf to win all four Grand Slam titles and an Olympic gold in singles.


And there was Serena — the tennis legend, the winner of 14 individual Grand Slams, the best player of her generation, the American girl being crowned at the All-England Club as the queen of tennis — Crip-Walking all over the most lily-white place in the world.

Blogger Debbie Schlussel added: “Yup, that’s what we need representing America, a Gold Medalist who, upon winning, glorifies hardened criminals who murder each other — and innocent Americans — for sport.”

Silver medalist Maria Sharapova of Russia and gold medalist Serena Williams of the United States pose on the podium. (Photo: Getty Images)

But Yahoo sports counters:

Relax, everyone. This makes it seem like Serena crip-walked away from the Queen after stealing the crown jewels. She broke out the dance for three seconds, while looking at her sister sitting in the player’s box! It’s a dance move, not a political statement…

Serena looked at Venus after the move. It was like they were sharing a “can you believe we’re here — two sisters from the inner-city — standing on Centre Court, both gold medal winners at the Olympics?” moment. She was representing. She did a dance move originated in her hometown while representing the United States. How is this wrong?

And Washington Post blogger Clinton Yates volunteered:

Frankly, there was a certain part of me that loved what Williams did. It was one of those subtle moments of celebration that was inclusive and illustrative of her unique upbringing, no matter how complicated that upbringing may be to the outside world.

Williams later told reporters that she didn’t plan the dance, saying: “I didn’t know what else to do. I was so happy, and next thing I know I started dancing and moving. I didn’t plan it. It just happened.”

Do you think the dance will hurt the tennis champion’s image, or was it all blown out of proportion?

The Associated Press contributed to this report.