FactCheck Social Media

A viral post from someone called Serena Williams was not from the tennis champion

2020-06-30 18:46:19

The Statement

There’s a famous tennis player in the United States called Serena Williams. There’s also a social media post by someone called Serena Williams getting a lot of attention at the moment in the US and elsewhere in the world. 

The post shows a screenshot of a Facebook post. The screenshot has been shared on Instagram with a banner that tags the @serenawilliams Instagram page of the sports star.

The Facebook post itself, from someone called Serena Williams, starts with “I’m sick of covid-19, I’m sick of black vs. white, I’m sick of Democrats vs. Republican, I’m sick of gay vs. straight. I’m sick of Christian vs atheist. I’m really sick of the media.” 

It continues with statements that people should support whoever they wish in the upcoming US election and believe in God if they wish, before ending with: “If you can’t handle the fact that you may have a friend that has opposing views as you, then you are not any better than the bigots and the racists. I don’t have to agree with everything you believe to be a decent human being & your friend”.

The posts have been viewed more than 450,000 times and have been shared by multiple accounts including here and here.

Screenshot of Facebook post
 A Facebook post by a “Serena Williams” has been interpreted by some as being from the tennis champ. 

The Analysis

As issues including COVID-19 lockdowns, the Black Lives Matter protests and the November US Presidential election continue to divide opinions all over the world, Facebook users have been sharing a post that seems to be from champion tennis player Serena Williams imploring people to be respectful of others’ beliefs.

The 23-time women’s Grand Slam champion has actually been an outspoken figure on issues to do with race and inequality, tweeting a Nike message in May with the line “Don’t pretend there’s not a problem in America” and posting a lengthy discussion about inequality in the United States in June.

However the Serena Williams on the account that posted the text is not the tennis champion, as clearly evident from the bio of the original poster’s Facebook page, which states: “Nope, not THAT Serena Williams”.

The post has been edited twice since appearing on June 15. First to add the hashtag “#repost” to the text and later to add an attribution to another Facebook user who appears to have first posted the text on June 3, 2020.

There is no suggestion that the original post was presented as being from the high-profile tennis player however reposts have tagged her Instagram and Twitter accounts, indicating people believe the post to have come from her.

The post does not appear on the official Serena Williams Facebook page.

Serena Williams
 Tennis champion Serena Williams has been vocal on issues of race and equality in America. 

The Verdict

Based on the evidence, AAP FactCheck finds some reshares and versions of the post to be misleading. The Facebook post is indeed by a person named Serena Williams but not the famous tennis player. There is no suggestion that the original post was presented as being from tennis champ Williams, however  some reshares have tagged the sports champion’s accounts.

Partly False – The claim of the content is a mixture of accurate and inaccurate, or the primary claim is misleading or incomplete.
 

* AAP FactCheck is accredited by the Poynter Institute’s International Fact-Checking Network, which promotes best practice through a stringent and transparent Code of Principles. https://aap.com.au/