Over the past few days, you might have noticed a certain Dominican volleyball player “breaking the Internet” by the name of Winifer Fernandez. However, it’s not her skills that are suddenly winning the adoration of fans and gaining her worldwide media coverage. The overnight Caribbean sensation is being praised for her physical appearance, rather than her amazing ability as an athlete. In the tradition of the male gaze in sports, Fernandez’s accomplishments as a volleyball player are glossed over, due to the heightened sexual objectification of Latinx women’s bodies.
Women of color who play sports are constantly fetishized in the athletic world; Serena Williams is heavily criticized for her body’s chiseled appearance, being referred to as “too masculine,” while Gabby Douglas, who set record scores at the Olympics, recently suffered a breakdown due to a bombardment of online trolls attacking her for not putting her hand over her heart during the national anthem, as well as constant negative comments concerning her hair. That said, here are eight reasons why Fernandez must be respected beyond her looks.
She’s played in 15 World Championships matches for the Dominican Republic and in 45 international championships. And she’s only 21.
She has an individual bronze medal. In 2011, she played in the Girls’ Youth Pan-American Cup, and helped the team to achieve a team gold medal.
She was called on to play with her club in 2016 in the World Grand Prix Group 2. The team won the gold.
She was elected in 2010 at NORCECA (North, Central America and Caribbean Federation) U18 Championship for Best Defensive Player at age 15. In addition, she was also elected Best Digger and Best Receiver, finishing in fourth place with her club, Cien Fuegos, according to Mens SXP.
Most Valuable Player
She was awarded the MVP at Baja California International Cup in 2013. “This tournament was a great experience for us, it was also the first one of the year and we feel very proud as a team,” Fernandez told reporters at the event, according to NORCEA. “We struggled a little in some matches, but finished strong, winning and that was the most important thing.
“I feel so proud about playing this position, for every goal you achieve, this takes you to the next step, willing to work harder, to be more active and to be full of energy for every challenge ahead.”
She is one of the youngest liberos (defensive players) from the Dominican Republic. Fernandez Prior to Fernandez’s entry into volleyball, Evelyn Carreras and Brenda Castillo were the youngest players from the Dominican Republic, representing the island in Athens in 2004 and London in 2012.
She has received numerous awards in different international competitions. She continues the tradition of award-winning liberos from the Dominican Republic.
She truly has love for the game. When receiving her award for Best Libero in 2013, she humbly declared her admiration for volleyball in Baja.“We hope that they keep on following and supporting volleyball, which is a very beautiful sport.”