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View Full Version : 'Offensive, ridiculous and unfair' - Oracene Williams mounts strong defence of her da


Infiniti2001
Jul 11th, 2002, 10:24 PM
Exclusive: Mother prepares for mission to spread the game in Africa
By Alex Hayes
07 July 2002
Internal links

Different parent, same outspoken views. With Richard Williams out of town this year, Oracene Williams has been the talk of the village. We are talking about Wimbledon Village, of course, a place where bright orange hair and funky clothes can hardly go unnoticed.

Not that Mrs Williams cares what anyone thinks of her. This weekend, she is far more concerned with the latest accusation, this time from the French player Amélie Mauresmo, that her two girls, Venus and Serena, somehow contrive their matches. "Firstly, I find that quite offensive," she says. "Secondly, I would like to know how you could predetermine the outcome of a meeting. It's not like the girls are betting on this or something. I find it ridiculous and really unfair when all they have done is gone out there and tried their hardest.

"It's a throwback to the master-slave mentality that they should go out on court and be really aggressive towards each other. They're sisters who care for each other and their reactions towards each other are only human."

She adds: "I think critics should think a bit more about what they are saying. Don't they realise how tough it is for two sisters to play against one another? I know that Serena is always the slightly hungrier one of the two because she is the youngest and wants to prove herself. I think that it's trickier for Venus. As the eldest, she wants to maintain her position, but she is also anxious not to hurt her little sister."

Williams is not only the devotedmother of the greatest sister act in the history of tennis, she is also extremely proud of her roots. Having accompanied her daughters on their joint quest for Wimbledon supremacy until yesterday's dénouement on Centre Court, the most recognisable tennis mom in the world is now preparing for a tour of Africa.

Following two weeks of coaching, coaxing, shopping, and divided loyalties, the woman they call Brandi is finally "going home to help my people". "I'm desperate to promote tennis over there and get kids involved," Williams explains. "The only African children who play tennis are the ones who go over to America to be at college. They are the few privileged ones and, by the time they get into the sport, they are usually too old to start a career. It would take a whole lot of determination and courage for an African kid to make it so late in life." It underlines her argument when you consider there were no black African competitors at the Championships this year.

Next week's visit to Africa is a two-pronged affair. On the one hand, Williams wants to "put Africa on the tennis map"; on the other, she hopes to "raise the profile of women in Africa". "It is ridiculous," she says, "that nothing is ever done in Africa. It's almost like people who have less aren't even considered. I can't speak for Britain, but this American administration, particularly in the current climate, does not do anything for Africa. The United States simply aren't interested."

Not so long ago, America were not interested in the Williams sisters either. "Africa is facing the same sort of barriers that we had to deal with," she says. "We were not from a rich neighbourhood, and we were never given anything."

The other part of the Williams plan is to empower African women. "That's almost the most important bit," she says. "In the few schemes that have been started in Africa, women are never the priority. Whether it be in education or the workplace, women are barely considered. That's why this programme is so close to my, and my girls', heart. It's time for change." Williams does not limit her views to Africa. She also feels that European women need to assert themselves more. "Women, particularly here in your country," she says with only a hint of a smile, "take too much of a back seat. There are so many chauvinistic attitudes here in England. Not just against women in every day life, but against sportswomen, too. And they seem to accept it. It's amazing that the girls on the Tour don't think they deserve more money. That's a shame, because to be perfectly honest, when I bump into people they tell me that men's tennis makes them turn off their TV. Women are the ones keeping tennis interesting at the moment and yet they are the ones being penalised for that."

Williams has always been keen to promote her African heritage. She has, by the same token, encouraged the girls to follow suit. "I want them to know who they are and what they are," she says. "That's why I wanted them to wear beads in their hair when they first started out on tour because I felt it was important they understand where they come from. They're African American and they should be proud of it."

The hope is that the success of the Williams siblings will raise the profile of tennis in Africa and, eventually, lead to a Women's Tennis Association tournament being held on the continent. "They've had Davis Cup ties there, but never a proper event," Williams says. "I think it would be wonderful to take the tennis family out there."

For now, the aim of this first African journey is to go to South Africa, Ghana and Senegal and lay the foundations for a possible visit by Venus and Serena later in the year. "I think the girls will go out there," she says, "and, like Muhammad Ali did when he went to Africa, help change people's lives. From what I see and hear, I think that there are quite a few people who feel better about themselves thanks to what Venus and Serena have achieved. Women tell me they have learnt to be more confident, and that's quite complimentary for the girls. It proves that anyone who is down-and-out can make it in life."

Mrs Williams, unlike her estranged husband, Richard, is not one for mingling with the crowds. Nor is she keen on losing any perspective when talking about the achievements of her two girls. "I think that everyone, including my daughters, needs to be fully aware, but not full, of themselves," she says. "Sometimes I feel like people make a whole hoohah over something which is only the girls' job. Playing tennis is what they do, and being the best just happens to be part of that.

"When I hear that there is a statue of the two girls in Washington, it makes us all wonder. We visited it last year, and Serena was speechless. I think she was amazed how a 20-year-old could be immortalised like this. She was proud, but my daughters are humble. If they lost that, they would soon begin to tumble." With a mother like Oracene, we could be waiting a long time.

Source: Independent

DEETHELICK
Jul 11th, 2002, 10:38 PM
Oracene says things in such a nicer way than Richard.

She states her opinions respectfully. I genuinely like her, and the sisters are lucky to have a voice of reason surrounding them!

She was interviewed by Sue Barker here, and she was so relaxed. Her aim is to make sure her daughters are happy!

Once again, kudos Oracene and nice article :)

kazzmazz
Jul 11th, 2002, 10:42 PM
I love this lady.

GoSandrine
Jul 11th, 2002, 10:55 PM
She's all class! :D

Lisbeth
Jul 11th, 2002, 11:59 PM
Good on you Oracene, it IS offensive. Good on them for wanting to do what they can in Africa too.

I don't quite understand what master-slave mentality has to do with wanting a good match between Venus and Serena or aggression, but I'm not American so I can't understand the depth of racial hatred which seems to exist in some quarters there.

moon
Jul 12th, 2002, 12:06 AM
Bravo Oracene!

tenn_ace
Jul 12th, 2002, 12:42 AM
Oracene=one of two best moms in business

Althea
Jul 12th, 2002, 01:04 AM
Speak on Miss Oracene... since so many seem to admire you maybe they will not only listen but act on what you have to say:

"....this programme is so close to my, and my girls', heart. It's time for change." Williams does not limit her views to Africa. She also feels that European women need to assert themselves more. "Women, particularly here in your country," she says with only a hint of a smile, "take too much of a back seat.."

Regarding her daughters:

"Firstly, I find that quite offensive," she says. "Secondly, I would like to know how you could predetermine the outcome of a meeting. It's not like the girls are betting on this or something. I find it ridiculous and really unfair when all they have done is gone out there and tried their hardest"


"I think critics should think a bit more about what they are saying. Don't they realise how tough it is for two sisters to play against one another? I know that Serena is always the slightly hungrier one of the two because she is the youngest and wants to prove herself. I think that it's trickier for Venus. As the eldest, she wants to maintain her position, but she is also anxious not to hurt her little sister."

PHOENIX-2002
Jul 12th, 2002, 01:33 AM
BRAVO ORACENE!!!!!!!!!!!!!

NOW WE KNOW VENUS AND SERENA EDUCATION COME FROM!!!!!


ALEX STEVENSON SHOULD LISTEN TO HER INSTEAD OF HER PSYCHO MOM!

JonBcn
Jul 12th, 2002, 01:58 AM
Thanks for the article. How nice to read something so insightful and intelligent from a tennis parent.

Gumbycat
Jul 12th, 2002, 02:57 AM
Oracene RULES :)

treufreund
Jul 12th, 2002, 03:13 AM
I love that lady! She is so classy! :D:D

gopher
Jul 12th, 2002, 03:19 AM
Sorry to say but the lady is talking bull****. What is her background to be talking on such a wide range of issues ?
To me this article is a good example of why Europeans have often disdain for American ignorance.

A few major errors

- She mixes up the UK with Europe. It is true that the position of women in the UK is rather weak but it is only as weak as it is in the US!! (for those who want figures please refer to Hofstedes commonly accepted work on cross-cultural values)
In Europe, especially The Netherlands and Scandinavia, women are on an equal scale with men, sometimes even pushing men to the background.
Obviously a minority complex towards the English upper society seems to be a recurring driver to pick on the UK and its citizens.

- she seems to forget the aspect 'culture'. US culture is not the same as African culture(=slight understatement)

A few examples:
US: individualistic, masculine, low power distance
Africa: collectivistic, less masculine (yes Miss Oracene), high power distance

Race has nothing to with this. Clearly some things get mixed up here.

So next time, please stick to tennis. I also think Africa needs other things than 'tennis' right now. Or is the final goal doing some tennis business there as well ? In the name of race ?

Crazy Canuck
Jul 12th, 2002, 03:23 AM
Well I think it is clear where Venus and Serena got their brains from.

That sounds sarcastic, but it is indeed a compliment.

Crazy Canuck
Jul 12th, 2002, 03:25 AM
gopher - I understand where you are coming from (sort of) but the women seems to mean well, and care.

Which is more than can be said for a lot of people with resources (read :money).

BigTennisFan
Jul 12th, 2002, 04:30 AM
[QUOTE]Originally posted by gopher
[B]Sorry to say but the lady is talking bull****. What is her background to be talking on such a wide range of issues ?
To me this article is a good example of why Europeans have often disdain for American ignorance.


I don't know about other Americans, but I for one have no intention of being lectured to by the same group of people who gave the world Nazism, Communism, Fascism, and Totalitarianism within a 30 year period.
O yes, I'm really worried about European disdain for American ignorance. :rolleyes:

Crazy Canuck
Jul 12th, 2002, 04:43 AM
While we're at it , why don't we bring up the faults of every nation/continent in the world?

Crazy Canuck
Jul 12th, 2002, 04:44 AM
And keep in mind that everyone in those area is at fault for things that occured in their nation/continent, esp. those events that occured outside their lifetime ;)

Couver
Jul 12th, 2002, 05:10 AM
Wow this is the most I"ve heard Orcene say :) I love it when she speaks though, because she always has something meaninful to say.

I think the idea of brining tennis to Africa is a great idea. Venus & Serena could even try to team up with Amanda Coezter and Cara Black and do some exhibition or something.

Zummi
Jul 12th, 2002, 05:20 AM
Oracene is such a class act!

Halardfan
Jul 12th, 2002, 06:08 AM
I don't think the position of women in Britian is THAT weak, of course there is plenty still to be done on those issues, and in the likes of Parliament women are grossly under-represented, but I think in a broad sense Britian is a modern, socially liberal country, I don't think that America is any better in this area.

On the surface it might seem so, but beneath a veneer of political correctness, same old prejudices often lie.

Jakeev
Jul 12th, 2002, 08:30 AM
BigTennisFan all I want to do is give you high fives all day long for your response to gopher. Outstanding way to hit below the belt especially when you are so right.

I think gopher is totally entitled to his opinion but I don't think he really read or understood what Oracene was trying to get at.

Oracene, as usual shows, her amazing intelligence.

gopher
Jul 12th, 2002, 09:12 AM
Jakeev, BTF,

- Depends what your definition of intelligence is. Most sensible people would think as well that tennis is not a priority for Africa.

- Putting communism in one line together with nazism smells very much like Joseph McArthy in the fifties. Very nasty indeed. Do not forget that you have American nazis as well as US black racistic parties.

- As a teacher you should know that Europe has been among others the cradle for humanism and liberalism and all major Western philosophical mainstream ideas since 500BC.
These European ideas were the foundation of the US Constitution, so a little respect wouldn't harm. It is a worrying thing that 'speaking out' is less and less accepted in this world.

- thanks Chris Ba for confirming the fundamental error in Oracene's reasoning. She might be a 'class act'. I leave that up to your opinion. But she is certainly a businesswoman and not a sociologist.

Sam L
Jul 12th, 2002, 10:58 AM
I agree with her :) Go Oracene!

Beige
Jul 12th, 2002, 10:59 AM
Originally posted by Rebecca
Well I think it is clear where Venus and Serena got their brains from.

That sounds sarcastic, but it is indeed a compliment.

Becca, one day when you grow up you will realize the brilliance of Richard Williams. :D

Go Oracene! :bounce:

Williams Rulez
Jul 12th, 2002, 12:52 PM
Great article... :D

She is great at articulating her views and she seems really genuie in wanting to help out everywhere. It is really great. Many rich people don't wanna share their wealth... glad to see that Oracene is so involved in issues that concern her.

Terri77
Jul 12th, 2002, 02:14 PM
Originally posted by gopher
Sorry to say but the lady is talking bull****. What is her background to be talking on such a wide range of issues ?
To me this article is a good example of why Europeans have often disdain for American ignorance.

These European ideas were the foundation of the US Constitution, so a little respect wouldn't harm. It is a worrying thing that 'speaking out' is less and less accepted in this world.


Whatever she does in Africa it will be more productive that what you're doing. And what makes you such an authority on Africa or America? Masculine, less masculine, low power distance, high power distance? What the heck are you trying to talk about and what gives you the background to make such broad generalizations on incredibly diverse continent and country? You seem to have a fair bit of ignorance yourself.

As far as respect, well if that ain't the pot calling the kettle black. Newsflash, but you might not want to make statements about American ignorance and then follow it up with a demand for more respect of Europeans. Just a thought. And yes, it is worrying that people are criticized for speaking out but I'm glad that Oracene Williams isn't letting that deter her.

eshell
Jul 12th, 2002, 02:25 PM
Gopher, after reading the interview again, I perceived that Mrs. Williams would like to use tennis to change women's lives in Africa.

As you have stated, her daughters are tennis players not government workers. What could they possibly provide to women in Africa? Let's see: hope, encouragement, a sense of communal pride.

I wager that Oracene would like to use this mission as a conduit for more involvement in Sub-Saharan Africa. A tournament there means more publicity and more investment. Investment leads to jobs and, hopefully, further investment.

This work won't improve Oracene's lot in life...let me correct myself...she won't become wealthy from this work.

As an aside, Gopher, many African Americans long to help alleviate concerns in Africa...especially those who believe in Pan-Africanism and the diaspora.

You are entitled to your opinion but please keep in mind ALL cultural aspects when introducing your argument in this discussion.

BigTennisFan
Jul 13th, 2002, 08:34 PM
[QUOTE]Originally posted by gopher
[B]Jakeev, BTF,


- Putting communism in one line together with nazism smells very much like Joseph McArthy in the fifties. Very nasty indeed. Do not forget that you have American nazis as well as US black racistic parties.[QUOTE]

First of all, I am not politically correct so words like Mcarthyism, Racism, Homophobia, etc. have no effect on me. They are meant to stifle debate by trying to demonize the debater.
I do indeed rank Communism as one of the great evils of the
20th century. In absolute numbers, communism has murdered more people than the others put together. 20 million by Stalin alone. Let's not even consider Cambodia and China.
I've long wondered why good people don't hate Communism. I think I've finally figured it out but I'll take that to non tennis if anyone is interested.




[QUOTE]teacher you should know that Europe has been among others the cradle for humanism and liberalism and all major Western philosophical mainstream ideas since 500BC.
These European ideas were the foundation of the US Constitution, so a little respect wouldn't harm.[QUOTE]

Yes, some of these ideas may have their foundation in Europe, but the question is why did it take the United States to actually put them into practice. This business of Europe thinking that it is somehow morally superior to the US is nothing new.


[QUOTE]
It is aworrying thing that 'speaking out' is less and less accepted in this world.[QUOTE]

I don't know what this means but let me take a stab at it. There seems to be a misconception concerning the concept of free speech.
It's true that you can speak out on anything that strikes your fancy. However, some people seem to believe that free speech means saying anything you wish to say and not have it challenged. It doesn't work like that. If you put your ideas out there in the public, expect to have your ideas criticized. They way you combat speech is with speech.

It's like the people who were having fits about Venus hitting
Paola with a service return in the doubles final at Wimby. Paola understands that if you hog the net you might be hit. She did not complain about it. She kept coming to the net. It's part of the game.

So when you see people attacking your position, you can either keep coming to the net or whine and go home. But being criticized in the arena of ideas is part of the game.

That's my final word on this unless someone wants to move it to Non-Tennis.

:D

Shane54
Jul 13th, 2002, 11:01 PM
If Amelie made those accusations, she is totally in the wrong. Oracene has every right to be angry. I used to have doubts about their matches , but after watching them at the French and Wimbledon, there is no way in hell Venus is gonna "LET" Serena win. If one sister were to "let" another sister win, it would be considered an insult. Each sister I believe wants to win on her own merits and wants to know in their heart that they won b/c they were the better one that day.

Oracene is a class act and has been extremely nice all this time. Her reaction was expected and well overdue.