Claim:  Venus Williams forfeited a tennis match against a transgender woman.

Fact: No credible reports confirm this allegation. The claim originated on social media platforms in late 2023 and resurfaced in April 2024. However, our investigation reveals it to be entirely false and based on a parody article published by the satire website Conservative Tears.

On April 30 2024, social media users Nosa Igunma (archive) and Cheryl Phoenix (archive) propagated a claim that Venus Williams had forfeited a tennis match against a transgender woman. 

Fact or Fiction?

A reverse image search by Soch Fact Check traced the origins of this claim back to late 2023 when it first surfaced on popular social media platforms including Facebook, Instagram, and TikTok. The same year, Snopes traced the origin of this claim to a site named “Conservative Tears,”, which, according to the “About Us” section, a satire and parody platform. Despite its satirical nature, the story was circulating without any indication of its comedic intent.

For instance, a Facebook post (archived by Snopes) published by “America – Love It Or Leave It” got significant attention, claiming Williams received a standing ovation for refusing to play against a transgender player named Joe “Josepheena” LaBarron. Further examination by Snopes revealed that “America – Love It Or Leave It” is a satire/parody account linked to Conservative Tears, a well-known conservative-leaning satire website. 

Conservative Tears originally published the claim in greater detail, asserting that Williams received applause for backing out of a match against a trans woman named Joe “Josepheena” LaBarron from France. Searches through the Women’s Tennis Association (WTA) database and Google reverse image searches failed to corroborate the existence of a player named Joe “Josepheena” LaBarron.

Soch Fact Check traced the image used in the claim back to Amélie Mauresmo, a retired professional tennis player from France. The image appears on her Wikipedia page.

The Conservative Tears website states that it is part of a “network of parody, satire, and tomfoolery,” confirming the fictitious nature of the story. Despite these revelations, the rumour resurfaced in April 2024, sparking renewed speculation about Williams’ stance on transgender athletes in sports.

Lastly, the player pictured in the posts was not Venus Williams but her younger sister and former world No. 1-ranked player Serena Williams.


The claim has been shared numerous times over the past year. In late 2024, it was shared on  Facebook, Instagram, and TikTok, where it received more than 34,000 likes and thousands of shares.

In April 2024, the rumour resurfaced, reigniting speculation about Williams’ stance on transgender athletes in sports. It was published to various social media networks, including Facebook (here and here), Instagram (here and here), TikTok and YouTube. On Facebook and Instagram, the claim received more than 1,600 likes and 270 comments.

Conclusion: The claim that Venus Williams forfeited a tennis match because she refused to play against a transgender woman is false. The story originated from satire and lacked any basis in reality or factual events. 

Background image in cover photo: Oympics

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