At Web Summit in Lisbon this week, the WWE’s Chief Brand Officer Stephanie McMahon made something abundantly clear — the pro-wrestling company wants Serena Williams.
When asked about current WWE superstar and current Raw Women’s champion Ronda Rousey and what other high profile female athlete she would like to bring into the company McMahon answered: Serena Williams.
“I actually happened to be on the same flight as her husband yesterday, but Serena Williams — I mean, the door is open, Serena, I love Serena,” she said.
Williams, along with being one of the greatest pro tennis players of all-time, is the chair of Yahoo Finance’s parent company Oath’s Board of Advisors. Her power and dominance have been one of her trademarks on the tennis court, and apparently McMahon believes that could translate to the wrestling ring. A possible Ronda Rousey vs. Serena Williams would likely be the most covered and talked-about women’s wrestling match of all time, but only time will tell if that will ever happen.
‘We hear you. Keep watching’
As far as the current WWE product goes, McMahon did not mince words: The WWE’s Women’s revolution is here to stay. The movement started on the February 23, 2015 edition of WWE’s flagship program “Monday Night Raw.”
On that night, a “Divas” tag team (that’s how WWE referred to its female talent back then) match lasted an astonishing 30 seconds. That sparked outrage among the WWE fanbase, and the Twitter hashtag #GiveDIvasAChance trended worldwide. WWE took a long, hard look at just how little time and respect it gave to its female talent.
WWE’s chairman and CEO Vince McMahon (also the father of Stephanie McMahon) would respond in a tweet that read: “We hear you. Keep watching. #GiveDivasAChance.”
After that, the WWE embarked on a fundamental change in its talent development strategy that involved training women in the same way as men were trained. That led to better matches and a better Divas division; however, the name divas seemed derogatory and outdated to some people.
At Wrestlemania 32 in Dallas, Texas, WWE Hall of Famer Lita made a historic announcement: The WWE Divas division would be renamed the Woman’s division, and female WWE talent would be referred to as “Superstars” — the same title that is given to their male counterparts. Since then the WWE’s women’s movement has become a high focus of the WWE’s marketing strategy. Women superstars are now out on prominent spots on WWE events, and in October the WWE hosted its first female pay-per-view event WWE Evolution.
The women’s revolution has not only been stateside. At Web Summit Lisbon, 2018 McMahon highlighted the fact that, in Abu Dabi, women wrestlers were allowed to perform for the first time. They had to wear different outfits than U.S. wrestlers — only their heads and hands could be showing — but halfway through the match, the entire crowd, male and female, started to chant “This is hope.”
“That’s what this movement is all about,” McMahon said.
Serena Williams may never join the WWE, but the WWE’s women’s revolution looks like it rightfully here to stay.
Reggie Wade is a pro-wrestling aficionado and an associate producer at Yahoo Finance.
More from Reggie: