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When Serena Williams was named Sportswoman of the Year at Sunday's BET Awards, pretty much everyone immediately hit the Twitter and the 'gram to celebrate the tennis star's breathtaking career. However, for People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), a celebratory tweet quickly turned into a full-blown controversy:
"So happy for @serenawilliams on her #BETAwards win for Sportswoman of the Year!" PETA tweeted Sunday night. "Animals everywhere are celebrating with her tonight." Many Twitter users responded with confusion or outright anger at the wording of the tweet, which some have said inadvertently suggests that Williams' fans are akin to "animals."
The tweet was likely intended as a reference to Williams' 2012 decision to try a raw vegan diet, free of meat and related animal products. According to the Daily Mail, Serena's sister, Venus, first switched to a raw vegan diet after being diagnosed with Sjogren's Disease, an incurable immune system disorder. Serena, in solidarity with her sister, decided to join Venus for the diet overhaul. Serena and Venus now follow a vegan diet "during the tennis season," according to an EcoWatch report from October of last year.
Earlier this month, PETA faced a similar controversy after the president of the animal rights organization, Ingrid Newkirk, compared the discrimination against women to the mistreatment of chickens:
PETA ultimately stood by that statement, clarifying that the quote was meant to argue for "equal consideration" on behalf of animals, not "equal rights."
PETA did not immediately respond to Complex's request for comment.