Richard Strikes Black (Pun Intended) At Tracy Austin's Criticism Of Him and Oracene
From today's NY Post:
PAIN & GRIEF MAR VENUS' OPEN RUN
By MARC BERMAN
September 6, 2004 -- Venus Williams can talk all she wants about her injuries this year — the sprained wrist, the bum ankle.
Following her third-round win over Chanda Rubin late Saturday night at Ashe Stadium, Venus got emotional on the court, talking about finally feeling right, feeling "a lot more like I did before all the injuries."
But there's one wound that won't go away, one about which Venus is still reluctant to go into detail: The one-year anniversary of the shooting death of her half-sister, Yetunde Price, is coming up on Sept. 14.
Venus, who was closer to her older sister Yetunde than was the youngest Williams daughter, Serena, has never addressed the murder publicly.
When The Post asked 11th-seeded Venus about the significance of the anniversary, she said: "I talk about those things with close family and friends. I think it's inappropriate now."
But when asked if Yetunde is in her thoughts this week, Venus answered, "Always."
Today at the U.S. Open Round of 16 will be the seminal moment of Venus' comeback. Venus, who hasn't won a Grand Slam in three years, takes on the tour's hottest player, Lindsay Davenport. Venus has lost twice to Davenport this summer, including once in L.A. when she retired after her wrist pain flared.
Venus' father, Richard Williams, will discuss almost any subject but won't specifically address the effect of the family tragedy on his daughter's game. "It's too heartbreaking," he said. "It's the toughest thing in the world. Please don't even bring it up.
"If Venus wants to play, nobody can whup her," he added. "I don't care who it is. Nobody can beat Venus if she wants to play. But if Venus doesn't want to play and starts playing like she [did against Rubin], it will look like anyone would be in the wrong place, me or anyone else."
Williams was making reference to recent attacks by USA Network commentator Tracy Austin, who repeatedly criticized the Williams' parents for not hiring another tennis coach to work with their daughters' struggling forehands.
"I couldn't care what Tracy or anyone says," Papa Williams said. "When Venus and Serena were winning, there was something wrong. When they're losing, there's something wrong. Very honestly, it's a disgrace. I think it's a disgrace at how the system is against those two black girls. If they win, everything is wrong; if they lose, it's get rid of the parents. I just work for them. They've always wanted me around."
Papa Williams has long been a target for breaking tennis tradition, not having his girls play the junior USTA events, instead using marathon practice sessions on the cracked courts of Compton, Calif., to toughen them up.
Last week, Austin opined: "Both Williams sisters, their forehands break down. And their parents, Oracene and Richard, are not real tennis players, but have been their coaches — basically their only coaches — for the last five, six years. They've had plenty of hitting partners. But that's something I am starting to question.
"Why not go to a specialist if you have a little problem? Especially to me, when Venus and Serena are being coached by parents that didn't play the game."
Said Papa Williams: "When people try to break up unity between the family, it means they have a bad relationship with their family. It would be interesting to look at Tracy's family background. With statements like that, her family life must've been terrible."