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post #1 of 99 (permalink) Old Jul 30th, 2003, 03:36 AM Thread Starter
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Very Good Article

Tennis is racist - it's time we did something about it
As race courses through the veins of tennis, people pretend it doesn't exist

Martin Jacques
Wednesday June 25, 2003
The Guardian

When Serena Williams was beaten by Justine Henin-Hardenne in the French Open semi-final, she was booed every time she questioned a decision - even when she was clearly in the right. And, towards the end of the match, every first serve she missed was greeted with loud cheers.

Unsurprisingly, Williams was reduced to tears. At the end, she was booed off, just as her sister Venus had been after her defeat by Russia's Vera Zvonareva in the fourth round. Various explanations were offered to explain the crowd 's hostility to Serena, including support for the underdog and the number of Belgians there. Both were no doubt part of the explanation but the most likely - racism - barely got a mention.

The antipathy of a tennis crowd is hardly a new experience for the Williams sisters In the semi-finals of the US Open last year, the American crowd supported Amélie Mauresmo of France rather than Venus: for the overwhelmingly white, middle-class crowd, the bond of colour clearly counted for more than the bond of nation.

During a second round match at this year 's Roland Garros, when a blonde American teenager, Ashley Harkleroad, knocked out Daniela Hantuchova, the Eurosport commentator, a former player, excitedly declared that perhaps America had found the women 's champion it was looking for. And the Williams sisters, pray? Sorry, wrong colour.

At the Indian Wells final in 2001, Serena was jeered the moment she appeared on court and was booed throughout. Her father, Richard, described how, as "Venus and I were walking down the stairs to our seats, people kept calling me ******. One guy said, 'I wish it was '75 [alluding to the Los Angeles race riots ]; we'd skin you alive.'"

None of this should be surprising. Tennis is an overwhelmingly white middle-class sport, both in those who play and those who watch. Until the Williams' emergence, the only previous black grand-slam champions were Althea Gibson, Arthur Ashe and Yannick Noah. Western societies - be they European or American - are deeply racist: notwithstanding that veneer of politeness and refinement, the middle-class is certainly no exception.

Although Venus and Serena got a warm reception in their opening matches at Wimbledon, the fact is there will be few brown or black faces in the crowd, and little understanding or sympathy for what it is like to be black from spectators, commentators or tennis reporters. For the great majority, the sisters are from an alien world compared with their white opponents.

The extraordinary thing is that this is hardly ever written or said. As race courses through the veins of tennis, people pretend it doesn't exist. Instead the Williams sisters, together with their father, are subjected to a steady stream of criticism, denigration, accusation and innuendo: their physique is somehow an unfair advantage (those of Afro descent are built differently), they are arrogant and aloof (they are proud and self-confident), they are not popular with the other players (they come from a very different culture and, let us not forget, there is plenty of evidence of racism among their colleagues: comments made by Martina Hingis spring to mind, not to mention the behaviour of Lleyton Hewitt towards a black linesman in last year's US Open).

And Richard, a man of some genius, is painted as a ridiculous and absurd figure, match-fixer, svengali and the rest of it. Most racism - especially middle-class racism - is neither crude nor explicit but subtle and nuanced, masquerading as fair comment about personal qualities rather than the prejudice it is.

The achievement of the Williams sisters is towering. Coming from a black ghetto in Los Angeles, riven by drugs and guns, they have scaled the heights of what their father has accurately described as a "lilywhite sport", with enormous verve and skill, and in the process have dealt with the prejudice of the tennis establishment, the players, the crowds and the media with great grace and dignity.

It is often said that one of the reasons crowds favour their opponents is that they like to side with the underdog. Yet, when the Williamses arrived on the scene they rarely received support even though they were the underdogs. And, by any standards, given what and where they have come from, Venus and Serena remain just that.

Now that sport has made the transition to the main stream of society and, by the same token, from the back to the front pages, it is not good enough to pretend that sport - any sport - is a culture free, value free zone. The ubiquity of racism in football is just beginning to get the attention it deserves. And so it should: football houses the biggest single manifestation of racism in most European societies. And the same goes for other sports. It is no longer good enough for reporters and commentators to turn a blind eye to racism.

Tennis - including lily-white Wimbledon - should be no exception.
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post #2 of 99 (permalink) Old Jul 30th, 2003, 03:38 AM
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there is nationalism and racism which one is tennis? it's hard to call.

Go the aussies! stosur!!!
and good luck russians: dementieva, safina, kirilenko, sharapova, kuznetsova, bovina, zvonareva, dushevina.

also good luck to: azarenka, lucic, sprem, vakulenko, vaidisova, safarova, ivanovic, groenefeld, mirza, krajicek, kvitkova, larcher de brito, lisicki.
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post #3 of 99 (permalink) Old Jul 30th, 2003, 03:40 AM
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riiiiiight....moving on....

MARIA
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post #4 of 99 (permalink) Old Jul 30th, 2003, 03:50 AM
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There's no racism in tennis, at least not on the scale they're discussing. Of course there's going to be some dumb fucker in the locker room or in the crowd who is going to have racist feelings towards the sisters, but the two times when the crowd really got against Serena, they had somewhat legitimate reasons.

2002 Indian Wells-When you've already shown reluctance to play each other, pulling out two minutes beforehand is a bit sketchy. If there were two white sisters who were the biggest acts in tennis and did this, they would get the same reaction as well. It has nothing to do with color. It has to do with feeling gipped.

2003 RG-The crowd was mean and unfair to Serena and I found it very distasteful. However, the French consider Justine to be French because she is from the french speaking part of Belgium (the same way they consider Mary to be french because she owns a french passport). Furthermore, Serena had completely embarassed their top player in Amelie Mauresmo the other day. French fans are fickle. They did the same thing to Martina Hingis back in 99. I doubt they're prejudiced towards white swiss players. The french are fickle, simple as that. Serena got a warm response in all of her other matches. If they're cheering for her opponent, it's not racism. It's called wanting to see a good match and not a 6-2 6-1 trouncing.

When Alexandra Stevenson made her comments about rampant racism on the tour in Wimbledon 2000, notice how not one other black player came to back up her statements. Not Chanda, not Mashona, not Lori, not Zina, not V and S. The reason is that bottom line, there is no more racism on the tour and the tennis world than there is in the everyday working world.

I apologize if I sound unsympathetic/like I'm bashing the sisters. Venus and Serena are two of my favorites. I'm aware racism is still alive and well in America and is a very serious issue. I just think the reason they aren't so warmly embraced is because they are so dominant. It took Monica being stabbed, Steffi coming back from potentially career ending injuries and Pete Sampras falling off the mountain big time in order to be embraces. Once they appear more "human," as with any other athlete who's the best in what they do, they will become more embraced by fans.
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post #5 of 99 (permalink) Old Jul 30th, 2003, 03:55 AM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bradshaw#1


There's no racism in tennis, at least not on the scale they're discussing. Of course there's going to be some dumb fucker in the locker room or in the crowd who is going to have racist feelings towards the sisters, but the two times when the crowd really got against Serena, they had somewhat legitimate reasons.

2002 Indian Wells-When you've already shown reluctance to play each other, pulling out two minutes beforehand is a bit sketchy. If there were two white sisters who were the biggest acts in tennis and did this, they would get the same reaction as well. It has nothing to do with color. It has to do with feeling gipped.

.
Why boo Serena?? She didn't pull out, Venus did. Why should Serena be punished for anger towards Venus??
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post #6 of 99 (permalink) Old Jul 30th, 2003, 04:06 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Knizzle
Why boo Serena?? She didn't pull out, Venus did. Why should Serena be punished for anger towards Venus??
Perhaps it has to do with the fact this match was before Serena broke out with all of her slams and the #1 ranking, which gave her her own "identity." She was no longer Venus's little sister, she was no longer one of the sisters, she wasn't part of a twosome, she was now Serena Williams, her own woman. This was before all of that so perhaps the crowd assumed Serena encouraged Venus to default. I dunno, it doesn't make much sense but I guess since they were considered to be half of one whole person at the time and not an individual, Venus's decision was a reflection of Serena.
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post #7 of 99 (permalink) Old Jul 30th, 2003, 04:28 AM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bradshaw#1
Perhaps it has to do with the fact this match was before Serena broke out with all of her slams and the #1 ranking, which gave her her own "identity." She was no longer Venus's little sister, she was no longer one of the sisters, she wasn't part of a twosome, she was now Serena Williams, her own woman. This was before all of that so perhaps the crowd assumed Serena encouraged Venus to default. I dunno, it doesn't make much sense but I guess since they were considered to be half of one whole person at the time and not an individual, Venus's decision was a reflection of Serena.
An assumption?? So basically the crowd had no good reason, right??
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post #8 of 99 (permalink) Old Jul 30th, 2003, 05:00 AM
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I'm not justifying the crowds action, but they have a somewhat legitimate argument. If tennis were racist, they'd be booed EVERYWHERE they go, every match they play.
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post #9 of 99 (permalink) Old Jul 30th, 2003, 05:25 AM
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The key word here is racism, not anti-Negro, not anti-Black but racism. Its a sweeping term that should, assuming the proposition is correct, include other races as well (yes folks, there are other races that are not black or white). Lets work with this.

When Shinobu Asagoe was dismantling Daniela Hantuchova at Wimbledon, did this racism manifest itself as it was proposed to have occured at RG 2003? In Scottsdale as Ai Sugiyama won over Kim Clijsters, did the same occur? If we assume that the proposition is entirely correct, and that Williamses are deemed unliked or unsupported by crowds wherever they go is MAINLY due to racism, then how can you explain their support for Sugiyama and Asagoe, who in their matches went against very white and very popular seeded players?

Maybe there is such a thing as preference?

Why do a lot of fans here support low ranked players? Surely it must be obvious that preference for a player as can be seen from the people here sometimes have little to do with ranking or achievement. If it was dogma that we as fans base our preference strictly on how good a player is, then do you think anyone will support anyone else other than Serena Williams?

Preference is a function of many things, and yes it includes regionalism, nationalism and racism. But to propose that racism is the main driver for such is absurd. What about preference for style of play, the way they look, the way they dress, the way they talk, their personal lives and personalities... all of this is part of why one supports a player and their levels of influence upon preference varies with every fan.

This is the line that really kills this argument:
Quote:
... there will be few brown or black faces in the crowd, and little understanding or sympathy for what it is like to be black from spectators, commentators or tennis reporters. For the great majority, the sisters are from an alien world compared with their white opponents.
The article suggests that there is a great injustice against the sisters precisely because the people who watches them can't sympathize to the hardships they have faced. That they are "alien" in a field of familiars. If this is true, then how come it doesn't manifest with Asagoe and Sugiyama? Surely they are of different race as well. If it holds true that fans watching dont like the Williamses precisely because they have " little understanding or sympathy for what it is like to be black", then does it follow that they appreciate Asagoe and Sugiyama because they have "a GOOD understanding of what it is like to be Asian who cant even speak English in a land full of tall Caucasians"?

Answer carefully. Remember, the proposition is that the Williamses are not popular because they are black and that the spectators are racially inclined to support the white player regardless of any other reason. Given the example of how the Asian players were treated, it is obvious that that proposition is greatly flawed and the article greatly biased. MAYBE, just maybe, there are other more compelling reasons why such fans dont like the sisters... and MAYBE, just maybe, those reasons are even more influential than racism.
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post #10 of 99 (permalink) Old Jul 30th, 2003, 06:10 AM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tarsius
The key word here is racism, not anti-Negro, not anti-Black but racism. Its a sweeping term that should, assuming the proposition is correct, include other races as well (yes folks, there are other races that are not black or white). Lets work with this.

When Shinobu Asagoe was dismantling Daniela Hantuchova at Wimbledon, did this racism manifest itself as it was proposed to have occured at RG 2003? In Scottsdale as Ai Sugiyama won over Kim Clijsters, did the same occur? If we assume that the proposition is entirely correct, and that Williamses are deemed unliked or unsupported by crowds wherever they go is MAINLY due to racism, then how can you explain their support for Sugiyama and Asagoe, who in their matches went against very white and very popular seeded players?

Maybe there is such a thing as preference?

Why do a lot of fans here support low ranked players? Surely it must be obvious that preference for a player as can be seen from the people here sometimes have little to do with ranking or achievement. If it was dogma that we as fans base our preference strictly on how good a player is, then do you think anyone will support anyone else other than Serena Williams?

Preference is a function of many things, and yes it includes regionalism, nationalism and racism. But to propose that racism is the main driver for such is absurd. What about preference for style of play, the way they look, the way they dress, the way they talk, their personal lives and personalities... all of this is part of why one supports a player and their levels of influence upon preference varies with every fan.

This is the line that really kills this argument:


The article suggests that there is a great injustice against the sisters precisely because the people who watches them can't sympathize to the hardships they have faced. That they are "alien" in a field of familiars. If this is true, then how come it doesn't manifest with Asagoe and Sugiyama? Surely they are of different race as well. If it holds true that fans watching dont like the Williamses precisely because they have " little understanding or sympathy for what it is like to be black", then does it follow that they appreciate Asagoe and Sugiyama because they have "a GOOD understanding of what it is like to be Asian who cant even speak English in a land full of tall Caucasians"?

Answer carefully. Remember, the proposition is that the Williamses are not popular because they are black and that the spectators are racially inclined to support the white player regardless of any other reason. Given the example of how the Asian players were treated, it is obvious that that proposition is greatly flawed and the article greatly biased. MAYBE, just maybe, there are other more compelling reasons why such fans dont like the sisters... and MAYBE, just maybe, those reasons are even more influential than racism.
V and S are popular, more than any other American players, all of tennis is definitely NOT racist, but there have been incidents like Venus vs. Mauresmo at the US Open semi. If that had been the French and Mauresmo had been the higher ranked player and the favorite, there is NO way they would have cheered for Venus and against Mauresmo. They supported Capriati vs. Mauresmo, but NOT Venus. Do you honestly think there were that many Mauresmo fans that just happened to show up to that semifinal?? Be realistic. Davenport receives much support in America, but the Williams just don't get the same support all of the time like the other American players. Like the writer of the article said, the majority of people in those seats at the tourneys, are white middle class citizens. As for Sugiyama and Asagoe, they are asian. Were asians previously enslaved in America?? Were they discriminated against?? Were they lynched for being Asian in America?? Are they still being discriminated against today?? The answer is no. Unfortunately black people are. There is alot of resentment of two black sisters being at the top of a sport that is 95% white. Especially in America. Do Ai and Shinobu live in America?? They still represent Japan. They are not Americans. Tennis legend have even openly said that resentment for the Williams is racism. The Williams came strong on tour around 97-98 but they were NEVER cheered on for being the underdog, so what was the reason then?? There is so much strong evidence of the racism in tennis. More so than evidence of no racism.
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post #11 of 99 (permalink) Old Jul 30th, 2003, 06:46 AM
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You present a very interesting point. This is something that I remember debating in my Asian American Literature class years ago. Basically, there has always been racism in this country towards Asians however, it has always been different than racism towards Blacks. Blacks and Whites in America have a very unique relationship. Blacks have always been set up as the diametric opposite of whites much like the colors of their skin. Black and white are opposite both in the spectrum of visible light and the spectrum of humanity. Blacks were seen as childish emotionally driven creatures as opposed to rational human beings. Blacks, or the man/child were considered hard to control and needed to be kept away from civilized society. Hence the derogatory term "boy", which was frequently used by white southern men to rob Black men of their manhood.

White culture in this country has always been the dominant culture. Blacks with their slang ie. codewords, music, style of dress etc, have always been resistant to enculturalisation (adopting the cues and signifiers of the dominant culture). In short, Blacks have always been viewed as difficult to, for lack of a better word, tame.

To their benefit, Asian Americans being viewed as docile, have successfully embraced White American culture. They have become the favored minority in this country. Consider the history of racial stereotypes in American cinema. Charlie Chan, one the the most notorious Asian film archetypes was flamboyantly feminine and preening in his manners and gestures. D.W. Griffith's, "Birth of a Nation", showed America the image of a black man (actually a white man with his skin painted jet black) chasing a white woman through the forest, until she is saved by white men. This film is one of the first feature length films and is still hailed in film schools as a masterpiece to this day because if it's technical innovations.

In this history of propagandism in which Black men and women were depicted as sex starved and overly virile with huge penises, while Asian men docile and feminine with small penises, America has learned to internalize these ideas and respond to them subconciously. Basically, of all the hyphenated minority cultures, Asian-American is the least anti-american or dangerous. While African-American is seen as a taunt or thumbing of one's nose to the prevailing establishment.
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post #12 of 99 (permalink) Old Jul 30th, 2003, 07:56 AM
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Nice post midnite.

We can all go back and forth on this but there is one fact that is undeniable. Venus and Serena have allways been held to a different standard and have not been treated the same as other players.

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post #13 of 99 (permalink) Old Jul 30th, 2003, 08:56 AM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DunkMachine

We can all go back and forth on this but there is one fact that is undeniable. Venus and Serena have allways been held to a different standard and have not been treated the same as other players.
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post #14 of 99 (permalink) Old Jul 30th, 2003, 09:05 AM
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I don't believe in the racism-thing really. If that would be the case, it would happen to Chanda Rubin too. I don't recall Chanda being booed somewhere.

I only read about what happened in Indian Wells, and I don't know enough about the situation in the USA to give comment about it.

French Open 2003 however was no racism. The crowd was terrible I admit that. Racism still exists, but I think it's much better in Europe then in the USA. So why did the crowd boo? Supporting the underdog, revenge for the slaughter of Momo, supporting the french speaking girl, sheering for Justine's dream to come true.. There are so many reasons.

Btw don't condamn all french supporters: it's always a minor group who starts booing. It's a group-effect that many others just follow.
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post #15 of 99 (permalink) Old Jul 30th, 2003, 10:32 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by per4ever
I don't believe in the racism-thing really. If that would be the case, it would happen to Chanda Rubin too. I don't recall Chanda being booed somewhere.

I only read about what happened in Indian Wells, and I don't know enough about the situation in the USA to give comment about it.

French Open 2003 however was no racism. The crowd was terrible I admit that. Racism still exists, but I think it's much better in Europe then in the USA. So why did the crowd boo? Supporting the underdog, revenge for the slaughter of Momo, supporting the french speaking girl, sheering for Justine's dream to come true.. There are so many reasons.

Btw don't condamn all french supporters: it's always a minor group who starts booing. It's a group-effect that many others just follow.
You said, I only read about what happened in Indian Wells, and I don't know enough about the situation in the USA to give comment about it."

But right before that you said you don't believe in it?
which is it?

White people from other countries, can say they BELIEVE whatever they want, but the fact is, you don't live in the USA, and you dont have a CLUE about being black in the USA or in France for that matter.

Venus Williams-- My tennis inspiration
Roger Federer - GREATEST OF ALL TIME!!
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