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Serena Williams mixed up with sister Venus in New York Times print article

“No matter how far we come, we get reminded that it’s not enough,” Serena Williams tweeted.
Serena Williams plays against Russia's Anastasia Potapova in the third round of the Australian Open in Melbourne on Feb. 12, 2021.
Serena Williams during a match against Anastasia Potapova of Russia in the third round of the Australian Open in Melbourne on Feb. 12, 2021.Loren Elliott / Reuters file

Serena Williams spoke out Wednesday after The New York Times inaccurately used a photo of her sister, Venus, to identify her in its print issue.

The article detailed Williams’ Serena Ventures, which recently announced an inaugural fund of $111 million to support early stage startups.

Normally, Black founders receive 1.2 percent of venture funding, according to Serena Ventures. However, 76 percent of the organization’s portfolio founders come from historically underrepresented backgrounds, its website said, and 47 percent of the founders involved with Serena Ventures are Black — promoting equity and inclusion in the financial sector.

“No matter how far we come, we get reminded that it’s not enough,” Williams tweeted alongside a photo of the Times article. “This is why I raised $111M for @serenaventures. To support the founders who are overlooked by engrained systems woefully unaware of their biases. Because even I am overlooked. You can do better, @nytimes.”

Williams’ post received over 35,000 likes and over 6,000 retweets.

Soon after, the Times’ business section addressed the gaffe on Twitter.

“This was our mistake,” the publication tweeted. “It was due to an error when selecting photos for the print edition, and it did not appear online. A correction will appear in tomorrow’s paper.”

While such mistakes usually occur without bad intentions, they may further perpetuate feelings of exclusion for marginalized communities.

Williams is among several notable Black celebrities who have been misidentified in media coverage.

Most recently, NBC Sports misidentified the Black country singer Mickey Guyton as the R&B singer Jhené Aiko during the Super Bowl. NBC Sports has apologized for the error. (NBCUniversal is the parent company of NBC News, NBCBLK and NBC Sports.)

In a 2014 interview, KTLA-TV of Los Angeles mistook the actor Samuel L. Jackson for the actor Laurence Fishburne. While Jackson jokingly corrected the reporter, he refused to go on to the next topic until had made his point clear.

“I’m not Laurence Fishburne,” Jackson said.

“We don’t all look alike,” he said. “We may all be Black and famous, but we all don’t look alike.”

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