It's not the first time Williams has been the topic of heated public debate this year.
On the cover, Serena wore a black long-sleeve turtleneck leotard and accesorised with a chunky belt.
Henry Golding has been named Star of the Year, breaking out in the successful Crazy Rich Asians film, and deeming himself as one of the industry's must-hire new actors, while Jonah Hill is appointed Director of the Year, for his wonderful work on the coming-of-age skater flick Mid90s.
While GQ's issue is usually called the "Men of the Year" issue, the publication chose to switch things up for Serena's cover, seeing how she is one of very few women featured (Wonder Woman's Gal Gadot also has a cover).
Mick Rouse, a research manager at GQ, explained on Twitter that the magazine did not mean the quotation marks as a slight but that they were put there as a stylistic choice by superstar fashion designer Virgil Abloh.
Gerard Butler shares photo of Malibu home destroyed in Woolsey fire
Sending so much love and gratitude to the firefighters and LA county Sheriff's department! She lived alone and did not drive. Luxury homes in Malibu and other beach communities are among properties that have fallen victim to the flames.
Questions aside, the honor pegs Serena as a standing icon of her sport, even after one of the most controversial points of her career.
However the word woman is written with quotes around it, and that hasn't sat well with fans. On Williams' cover, the original "Men" header appears to be crossed out and replaced with "Woman" in black ink and quotation marks.
Serena has previously spoken out about the cruel comments surrounding her body, as part of a Reddit thread. It has been said I don't belong in Women's sports - that I belong in Men's - because I look stronger than many other women do. It has been said that I use drugs.
Do you think people are putting too much into the cover art, or not enough? "(No, I just work hard and I was born with this baddass body and proud of it)".