Gabby Douglas (Courtesy US Presswire)
By Kelly Whiteside, USA TODAY
WIMBLEDON, England - Serena Williams loves Gabby Douglas. Or as she says, "I'm obsessed with Gabby Douglas."
The tennis star said she had "chill bumps" when she watched Douglas become the first African-American woman to win the all-around Olympic gymnastics gold Thursday.
Williams also has followed the online debate, mostly via Twitter, about Douglas' straightened hair. "It's gorgeous! People don't know what they're talking about," Williams told USA TODAY Sports on Friday. "It's ridiculous. It's so ridiculous. Her hair is gorgeous."
Actress Gabrielle Union, who's African-American, took to Twitter to counter some of the criticism Friday. She wrote: "@gabrielledoug is a winner I am proud of her. She is beautiful exactly the way she is Shes #Gabulous#byehaters"
Douglas retweeted Union and added: "AGREED!!!"
Monisha Randolph was among the first to weigh in on the racially sensitive debate, writing in her Sporty Afros blog on Facebook.
"So what's the big deal about Gabby's hair? From what I am reading on Facebook and Twitter, many African American women who are SITTING and WATCHING Gabby compete believe her hair is not "kept."
She needs some gel and a brush ...
Someone needs to give her a hair intervention ...
She has to "represent"..."
"Have we forgotten that Gabby is competing at Olympics XXX? This is not America's Next Top Model that we're watching. ... And the last time I checked when you play a sport, you sweat. I know I do. And when a Black woman who has chosen to wear her hair straight begins to sweat, her hair will (not might) begin to revert back to its natural coily, curly, or kinky state. Does Gabby need to stop every five minutes to check her hair? No."
Union also tweeted: "Any1 who insults a TEEN whose accomplished so much while displaying grace & dignity is beyond lame & should be ashamed of themselves #byehaters"
Or as Williams said, for the third time as she headed into the Wimbledon locker room, "It's ridiculous."