Tennis Commentators Ignite Internet Backlash by Mistaking Dionne Warwick for Gladys Knight [UPDATED]

·3 min read
Photo:  Matthew Stockman, Eugene Gologursky (Getty Images)
Photo: Matthew Stockman, Eugene Gologursky (Getty Images)

Updated as of 9/1/2022 at 1:37 p.m. ET

You knew a story this wild couldn’t happen without Auntie Dionne herself tweeting about it. The “Say a Little Prayer” legend wrote, “Hi, I’m Gladys Knight… and instead of taking that midnight train to Georgia, I won’t walk on by but will say a little prayer for you.”

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Warwick and Gladys Knight are longtime friends, so it’s not surprising that she’s having fun with the situation.

Original story

The US Open is always one of the most star-studded sports events of the year. Its New York setting brings out a wide variety of famous faces from all walks of life. With Serena Williams on an epic run in her last tournament, there have been even more celebrities in attendance this year.

Star watching during Serena’s matches has become a regular part of the broadcast. I don’t expect the commentary team to know who every person is, but there are some legends you have to recognize. Especially when you refer to them as longtime tennis fans who show up at Arthur Ashe Stadium every year.

According to Newsweek, social media lost its mind during Serena’s second round win when analyst Chanda Rubin seemingly misidentified the Queen of Twitter Dionne Warwick as another legend, Gladys Knight.

As Dionne was clearly shown on-screen, Rubin exclaimed, “Oh, got some more stars! Gladys Knight!” Her co-commentator chimed in, “Gladys Knight! Hello!” The clip was originally posted by the account @Stevies_Wonder with the caption, “Unacceptable, from both of them.”

Since the two singers look nothing alike, the comments led to immediate outrage, with one user writing, “It’s the fact that Auntie Gladys was there and they STILL got it wrong.”

Another message read, “That’s not even Gladys Day. Cut the foolery.”

Even Oscar-winning hip-hop legend Questlove couldn’t believe what he was seeing, writing on Instagram, “Dionne Warwick people!!!!! DIONNE WARWICK!!!!! @therealdionnew.”

Questlove on Instagram: "Not like this 😑😑😑😑😑😑 Dionne Warwick people!!!!! DIONNE WARWICK!!!!! @therealdionnew"

For her part, Rubin, responded to the backlash tweeting, “Too bad I was initially looking at the court (where Auntie Gladys was in the stands) and not our program monitor that showed Ms. Dionne... mistake was immediately corrected.”

Chanda is an excellent analyst and groundbreaking tennis legend. If she says this was an honest mistake, I’m inclined to take her at her word. Arthur Ashe Stadium is the biggest tennis arena in the world. During primetime matches, there are a lot of distractions going on around the seats and suites. It’s absolutely possible for Rubin to see Gladys from the press box and be unaware that Dionne is on-screen.

However, the fact this went down one day after Laverne Cox was mistaken for Beyonce doesn’t help this look like the simple mix up it might have been.