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View Full Version : What motivates VENUS and SERENA to keep playing?


TeeRexx
Jul 29th, 2002, 10:30 PM
From Jon Wertheim's Mailbag @cnnsi
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F. Scott Fitzgerald once wrote, "Let me tell you about the very rich. They are different from you and me." Well, let me tell you about the Williams sisters. They are different from you and me. You and I might care how we are perceived by our peers. The Williams sisters never have and it has served them well. They don't waste time with petty locker-room politics and they are never conflicted when they wax an opponent -- each other notwithstanding.

http://us.news2.yimg.com/us.yimg.com/p/ap/20020729/capt.1027973204.bank_of_the_west_cajj103.jpg

What keeps them in tennis? Good question. John McEnroe raised an interesting point in his book. (See below.) To paraphrase, he senses that neither Venus nor Serena feels particularly passionate about the sport. They're simply good at it. So good, in fact, that they're almost morally obligated to play and not squander their gifts. I think that goes a bit far, but it's a point worth considering. What's more, particularly of late, both Venus and Serena seem to have wearied of the travel, the media interviews, the plasticized sponsor parties and the other off-court demands that attend being a star.

http://us.news1.yimg.com/us.yimg.com/p/rids/20020706/i/1025988541.3221381198.jpg

So where's their incentive? Practically speaking, there is plenty of financial motivation for them to stick around. Reebok, Nike, Puma, Wilson, Wilsons Leather, Wrigley, etc., ain't shelling out seven- (eight-? Do I hear nine-?) figure deals for them to study textiles, design hemlines and play with their dogs. Tennis has also given them a platform to raise both money and awareness for a variety of issues -- an offshoot of their success that both seem to be taking more seriously of late. Above all, both appear to have taken a page from Sampras' career playbook and girded for battle against the opponent that is history. (Did I really just write that horrible sentence?) Getting up to play Clijsters in Palo Alto is one thing; challenging Steffi, Chrissie, Martina, Maggie Court, etc., for all-time honors is another.
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Very interesting article indeed.
VENUS & SERENA are already securing a very positive place for themselves in tennis history.

moon
Jul 29th, 2002, 10:42 PM
I think he's right about them playing for history. It's already been established that they're at the top of the field, literally and figuratively. At this point, they are playing for their legacy.

Hulet
Jul 29th, 2002, 11:00 PM
I don't know if I completely agree with JM's claim that the sisters are not passionate about the sport and that they are playing the tennis just because they are morally obligated not to waste their talent. IMO, this argument just doesn't add up; how someone dedicate so much time and energy to practice with out a passion for the sport is beyond my understanding. I don't think anyone could pull off being very competive in a sport, let alone dominate it, without any love for the game and just because its his/her duty not to waste his/her talent. I think the sisters love the game, may be not excessively and more than anything in their lives, and more than that, I think they love the competition just like MJ, and achieving all they can with their talent.

-Sonic-
Jul 29th, 2002, 11:52 PM
Also I think their hatred for losing wouldn't be so apparant if they thought "well i'm still good, young and healthy, still getting paid, i know i can beat her next time".

Celeste
Jul 30th, 2002, 12:48 AM
Well, rich is hard. You never figure you're quite there. But, I think at the point Venus and Serena are right now, they both are filthy rich, and will become quite richer apart from on-court results. Monica and others, like Martina, are in the same situation. All of these women could spend money like drunken sailors the rest of their lives and still die rich. To me, and who knows what goes on inside these women's heads, it's *solely* about titles and pride now at this point. Titles are what they are after. That sort of goes into "history," they want the best place in tennis history they can get. How fortunate they are! Most top talented women pray for one Slam. They are after a record. None of these women will pull a Steffi, but they can still rack them up. What else are they going to do, and they have their whole lives ahead of them!

Dawn Marie
Jul 30th, 2002, 01:00 AM
All the above and passion to boot.:)

Volcana
Jul 30th, 2002, 01:10 AM
I think 'moral obligation not to squander their talent' is a good bit of their motivation. It might be cultural. The Black famlies I grew up around all that a sort of silent guilt trip.

Everyone wanted to see the smart child make it to college, and succeed in a hostile society.

Everyone wanted to see the gifted athlete make it, because it was the only perceived way out for so many.

People said New York stopped when Joe Louis fought, cause every Black busboy, doorman, bootblack, and seamstress in New York stopped working and just hang on every bit of news about the fight.

There's a sense that failing to exploit extraordinary gifts is a betrayal of the entire race.

But then again, maybe it's as Venus herself answered when asked if she loved tennis.

"Tennis is something I'm very good at."

"Topaz"
Jul 30th, 2002, 01:55 AM
Volcana, this last post of yours, together with the one you posted about the definition of "haters" in the "Kim has haters" thread, makes people pause and think hard about social conditions in America. I wonder how many posters/readers got the real message!

kiwifan
Jul 30th, 2002, 03:15 AM
Volcana, when I was growing up (partially in the South, partially in the NY/NJ area) I firmly believed that it was the most important thing for every black american to achieve as much as fast as possible in order to make it easier for the next person who came along. I am a mostly suburban kid (6th-7th,10th & 11th grade were spent in the hood) and most of my friends are white. As a result I was truly stuck in that "representing my race thing" most of my life.

I was popular and partied a lot but I was always aware that if I went as nuts as my buddies did, the only one everybody would remember "breakin' stuff" the next day was me, so I kept control.

I ended up in a very good school and went on to an "advanced degree" at an even better school.

Once I had a chance meeting with a young black man who was trying to choose between law schools and one of them was Harvard. I immediately told him that if he didn't go to Harvard, he better have a damn good reason because to settle for less than the best was taking a space in another good (but not quite Harvard level) school from another kid who can't go to Harvard but would be thrilled to go to "the other school".

I've mellowed considerably since then (that was back in '95); but that ethic of achievement is very real!

I don't believe anyone has responsibility to their race over their personal comfort/happiness, etc. anymore.

But I also like to remember all the people who had to put race before all (J. Robinson, A. Gibson, A. Ashe, M. King Jr, a certain Mr. X who I am quite fond of, and the list goes on).

I hope the Sisters are playing for themselves and for fun; but the other motivation is definitely very very real.

No offense to Zina, McNeil and the others before Venus but the real deal is that the Williams Sisters are the most attractive representives of female black america to grace the tennis courts because they bring the "thunder and lightning", they kick ass, they aren't trying to assimilate into any old school "thanks for letting me play your game" crap (sorry but that's why I preferred Connors to Ashe).

To take race out of it Connors stepped on the court (with his mean ass Grandma at his side) and kicked ass, love him or hate him. He stuck to his guns and eventually was accepted for being himself.

Venus and Serena are getting there.

I still feel a little sad when I think about Serena in that MTV special pointing out that Americans don't cheer for her when she's playing other Americans.

But just like with Connors, all the sisters need to do is keep winning and the crowds will come around.

Haters may say they're boring, but who brought the US Open to prime time?

Wasn't Lindsay and JCap.

Ps. Your post in "Kim has haters" was one of the best rebuttals I've witnessed since I started reading these boards.:cool: :cool:

And for the idiots who like to pull two words from my posts and then attack what I "said" - I'm going to repeat my point...

"I hope the Sisters are playing for themselves and for fun; but the other motivation is definitely very very real.":p :cool: :angel:

Deira
Jul 30th, 2002, 03:30 AM
Personally, I have seldom witnessed as much passion for winning as when I watch Serena Williams play tennis.

Cam'ron Giles
Jul 30th, 2002, 03:32 AM
Great post Kiwifan...and as alway, great post Vocano..:wavey:

TSequoia01
Jul 30th, 2002, 03:42 AM
Originally posted by Deira
Personally, I have seldom witnessed as much passion for winning as when I watch Serena Williams play tennis.


Deira, when asked where did she get her competitive heart? Venus often said Serena. I was always at a lost as to what she meant. Venus was aware of the fight inside of Serena even when her lil Sis did not display it on the court. Now Serena has fully arrived and the fight is evident. The doubles display in the semi finals at Wimbie was something special. Serena wanted to win doubles for her big Sis and was not excepting loss. Both Sisters are truly something special.

Great posts Volcana and Kiwifan, let me add that Venus and Serena get alot of their strength due to their sense of history. Richard and Oracene no doubt taught them well. They have not just read about people who came before them but rather have actually felt the painful stings they felt. So IMHO they will never in their minds be able to just play for themselves. :cool:

Roseie
Jul 30th, 2002, 04:11 AM
What do you mean Serena wanted to win the doubles for Venus. I watched the semi & final doubles quite a few times. I saw both sisters working hard to win.
Serena did not do anything special more than Venus. Thet both wanted it, & they worked hard to get the win.
The thing is, the commentators kept saying that Serena wanted to win for big sis. Where did it show that?

TSequoia01
Jul 30th, 2002, 04:20 AM
Originally posted by Roseie
What do you mean Serena wanted to win the doubles for Venus. I watched the semi & final doubles quite a few times. I saw both sisters working hard to win.
Serena did not do anything special more than Venus. Thet both wanted it, & they worked hard to get the win.
The thing is, the commentators kept saying that Serena wanted to win for big sis. Where did it show that?

Roseie, I am talking about the semi-finals. The doubles match played directly after the finals. Venus was kind of sleep walking out there which was understandable considering. Even Serena said she wanted to win it for Venus. In addition, the commentators also said that Serena was not going to let their team lose. If you taped the match go and refresh your memory. Serena carried their team on her back that day. :cool:

servenrichie
Jul 30th, 2002, 07:11 AM
Kiwifan and Volcano, reading your posts brings a lot of joy!
Thank you!

Williams Rulez
Jul 30th, 2002, 08:34 AM
Celeste is right... pride probably plays in role in motivating them, they hate losing.

kiwifan
Jul 30th, 2002, 04:22 PM
I hope some of the "Williams fans" critics are spying on this post.

Everyone thanks for the compliments, Volcana thanks for the inspiration.

I read a lot more than I post on this board, but when someone writes something that gets my attention, I respond.

Anyway, I'm off to England tomorrow for the Commonwealth Games (Yes I will be rooting for the KIWIS in Rugby).

Hope there are lots of great things to read when I return (even the fighting:fiery: :angel: :p)

BigTennisFan
Jul 31st, 2002, 01:32 AM
Testify, Kiwifan, Testify!!:bounce:

topspin
Jul 31st, 2002, 03:52 AM
Great posts as usual by volcano, sevenrichie, informative, persond, ot1962, tsequio, kiwifan, athea, amanda, callie19, and others.

kiwifan - "But just like with Connors, all the sisters need to do is keep winning and the crowds will come around."

That's the real underlying reason for the unwarranted displeasure towards Serena and Venus. They DIDN'T care if they would be accepted. They DON'T care if the crowds come around.

It's like whenever a black person becomes famous or achieve something great, there is this requirement that he or she must go out of their way to show "we are one people," "we are one race and color doesn't matter." In other words, they have to show and prove he or she is more than black. On a different message board a couple of years back, a poster asked why were Venus and Serena weaing the braids and beads. He said they were being too Afrocentric. What he REALLY was saying the Sisters were too acting too Black.

Why isn't this attitude of "we are one race" required, expected, or exhibited by non-black famous people? How many non-black famous people to show "we are one race." It was very touching when Steffi went to Africa in 1999 to spend time with the people especially the children .