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That Wasn't Beyoncé at the U.S. Open—It was Laverne Cox, and She's Flattered

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Two very glamorous Black women stand side by side. One is pregnant and wears a low cut red sequined gown; the other wears a black gown with sheer sides.
Beyoncé and Laverne Cox pose for a picture at the 2017 Grammy Awards. Many people, including Cox herself, were amused after she was mistaken for Beyoncé at a U.S. Open match on Sunday night. (Christopher Polk/Getty Images for NARAS)

Tennis legend Serena Williams drew a star-studded set of spectators to her first-round U.S. Open match—and possibly last pro tournament—on Sunday night, from former president Bill Clinton and actress Queen Latifah to tennis star Coco Gauff and Vogue editor Anna Wintour.

So it wouldn’t have been a total stretch to spot her friend Beyoncé—who narrated a new Gatorade commercial honoring Williams’ legacy—in the stands too. In fact, some watching at home thought they did.

“#Beyonce at the #USOpen,” tweeted the account @Choni, alongside a video of a Black woman in hoop earrings and a face mask reacting with the crowd.

Only Queen Bey it was not. As fans pointed out—and the original poster quickly clarified—the video actually showed Laverne Cox, the actress, Emmy Award-winning producer and LGTBQ advocate.

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Cox seemed amused by the mix-up and ensuing reaction, even reposting the video on her Instagram account.

“Not me getting mistaken for @Beyonce at the #USOpen tonight then trending on Twitter as the internet cackles over the mistaken identity,” she wrote. “These tweets are funny as hell. Enjoy!!!”

Instances of misidentification are often not funny. They overwhelmingly plague people of color in the workplace and in the media, including some recent high-profile cases—one of which involved Williams herself.

The New York Times mistakenly ran a photo of her sister Venus next to a story about her venture firm raising $111 million earlier this year, prompting Williams to share that she was working to support founders overlooked by biased systems “because even I am overlooked.”

This particular mistake was better received. Cox didn’t just seem to take it in stride but as a compliment.

Notably, Cox has made no secret of her admiration for the pop star. Just hours earlier, in fact, she had shared a video of herself getting ready for the U.S. Open with a Beyoncé song playing in the background. She’s also impersonated Beyoncé in the past—albeit more intentionally—in a memorable Lip Sync Battle performance.

“Everybody knows that I live for Beyoncé,” she told Entertainment Tonight in 2020. “I try not to worship gods on earth, or goddesses, but I worship Beyoncé.”

Many fans shared in that appreciation online, tweeting about how flattered Cox must be. Some even said that they saw the resemblance, too.

Choni, who first shared the video, later wrote that they were starting to think the mix-up might “actually be ok,” but would give it 24 hours to see. So far, that seems to be the case.

Sports and culture writer David Dennis, Jr. was one of the people who seemed to think so. He called Cox the second biggest winner of the night (after Williams, of course, who defeated Danka Kovinic 6-3, 6-3).

“Laverne Cox … was mistaken for Beyoncé all night,” he tweeted. “Which is a career highlight for literally anyone.”

“Absolutely!” Cox agreed.

Copyright 2022 NPR. To see more, visit NPR.

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