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Serena Williams. (Photo by Michael Dodge/Getty Images)


The Week in Women: Serena Williams lays down the line, an Iranian athlete takes off her hijab, and a girl boxer goes for gold

April 28, 2017

It was a very sporty week in news, with athletes cropping up across the headlines. And athletes are just great: they’re driven, they’re talented, and they push themselves to the limits of human physicality while we look on and eat hot wings. Let’s take a look back, shall we?

A top soccer player who once belonged to the Iranian women’s national team says she has been barred from playing in or coaching for the country’s domestic league because she participated in a co-ed game while not wearing a hijab. Shiva Amini said she posted an Instagram photo of herself playing a friendly game in Zurich. Her hair was not covered in the image and she was wearing shorts — another offense in the eyes of the Iranian Futsal Federation, which oversees the women’s team. “[They] were not even official games where I had to represent the Islamic Republic,” Amini said. “However, it seems that those games drew the ire of the officials within the Islamic Republic.”

Romanian tennis legend Ilie Nastase felt the need to make racially-charged comments about Serena Williams’ unborn baby. Remarking on news that Williams is expecting a child with her fiancé Alexis Ohanian, who is white, Nastase said during a press conference: “Let’s see what color it has. Chocolate with milk?” Williams responded with a lengthy Instagram post, in which she opined that “this world has come so far … but we have so much further to go.” It was the second strike against Nastase, who has been suspended from International Tennis Federation games. Days earlier, Nastase was booted from a match between Romania and England, after referring to two female players as “f-king bitches.” Yup, he’s a real class act this one.

A 10-year-old boxer from New Jersey is going for the gold. Jesselyn Silva, who goes by “JessZilla” in the ring because girlfriend means business, was featured in a New York Times documentary short. Jesselyn has faced a number of challenges as she has pursued her beloved sport — she can’t find many female opponents within her age group, for one thing. But she’s determined to make it big in boxing. “For my big goal, I want to go to the 2024 Olympics and win the gold,” she told the Times. At 10 years old, our greatest ambition may or may not have been to consume as many Dunkaroos as humanly possible.

And speaking of prodigious child athletes operating in male-dominated sports: A 12-year-old girl named Momo is scheduled to make her MMA debut in Japan next month — against a 24-year-old. Momo and her opponent, Momoko Yamazaki, fall in the same minimum weight class of 95 pounds. Both fighters will be required to wear headgear and have been instructed to avoid knocking one another down, but for some reason, a number of professional fighters have expressed concerns about a child taking repeated blows to the head. Once again, we are living in a Seinfeld episode.