Crouse: Next Williams only wants to be herself
By Karen Crouse, Palm Beach Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, August 27, 2003
NEW YORK -- An actor running for governor of California no longer
has the dynamism to break new ground. Arnold Schwarzenegger can't
really be a novelty because before Schwarzenegger there was Ronald
Angela Haynes can relate.
Haynes is the Schwarzenegger of the WTA Tour. Her story would have
everybody's lips flapping at the U.S. Open if the Williams sisters
hadn't preceded her out of Compton, Calif., and onto tennis' grand
It's a shame in a way because Haynes, 18, has the star power to
carry the ghetto Cinderella story line. Not to mention the financial
exigency to trade on it.
She was on Court 11 at Flushing Meadows opposing Tina Pisnik in a
first-round match Tuesday because of the beneficence of the USTA,
which gave her a free pass in the form of a wild card, but also
because a few years back her grandparents came out of retirement to
take janitorial jobs to subsidize her dream.
When Haynes talks about two people who helped her get to the U.S.
National Tennis Center, she speaks of her father's parents Joe and
Lucy Haynes, not her former neighbors, Venus and Serena.
The Williamses, who were a fixture in Haynes' life in her childhood,
now are as faraway as two stars in the night sky. They light Haynes'
way but that is about the extent of the sisters' guidance.
"I talked to Venus (in March) during the Nasdaq-100," said Haynes,
who has risen from No. 851 in the world to No. 226 since the
beginning of the year. "Not very long, though. Some pointers...
wouldn't hurt me at all. That would be nice."
Haynes smiled. "But you know, as long as I stay on this level, I'm
sure I'll get a chance to talk to them."
Fred Haynes, a tennis player in his youth, used to work with Venus
on one court at Lynwood Park in Compton while Angela's older
brother, Dante, who now plays tennis at UC Irvine, hit with Serena.
The two families' lives and fortunes would diverge when the
Williamses moved to Palm Beach Gardens and the Hayneses moved to
Bellflower, a suburb of L.A.
Haynes' father is disappointed that Richard Williams has been such a
stranger these past few years. "It kind of breaks my heart," was how
he put it. "Venus and Serena were like my kids," he explained. "If
I'm in the hole and you get out of the hole, put the pole back in
Richard Williams did summon Angela to Palm Beach Gardens in March,
around the time of the Nasdaq-100 Open, to work with her on her
game. He gave her some pointers on her footwork and sent her on her
"Every blue moon Richard calls my dad," Angela Haynes said. "But,
no, we really don't talk."
She didn't sound the least bit bitter. By simply being themselves,
the Williams sisters have made Haynes better. Their success has sent
Haynes a powerful message.
"It really opens up the gate for people like me and people in those
kind of neighborhoods (to) keep the dream alive," Haynes said. "It's
pretty inspiring. It (shows it) is possible."
A date in the second round looked eminently attainable when Haynes
jumped out to a 3-1 lead against Pisnik in the first set. Alas, then
Haynes remembered where she was. The enormity of the occasion left
her with a delayed case of stage fright. She started missing her
shots and Pisnik, showing the patience and cunning of someone who
has been on the tour five years, roared back to defeat Haynes 6-4, 6-
"When I had a shot, I'd blow it," Haynes said. "I could never really
get comfortable out there. A couple more years, a little more
experience and I'll be loose as a goose."
Haynes has personality -- and power -- to spare. If she can start
stringing together victories, the yellow brick road will be rolled
out for her.
The sky-blue outfit she wore Tuesday, her father bought off the
rack. Those days appear over. Earlier this month Haynes signed an
endorsement deal with adidas.
It's a start.
"People always ask, 'Are you going to be the next Venus and
Serena?'" Haynes said. "You know what, I only want to be me. I'm not
built like Serena. I'm not as tall as Venus. I can only play my game
and do my best."
Being from Compton isn't easy. Not after the manner in which the
Williamses escaped its mean streets -- as if on a magic carpet.
"Sometimes it puts a lot of pressure on me," Haynes admitted. "I'm
just gonna go out there and give the best I have."
Between many of the points Tuesday, Haynes would sneak a peek at her
dad in the stands. She was looking for approval, validation,
She would get it. She always has. "My dad is really all I have,"
Haynes said. "We got here by ourselves really."
They won't leave alone. A bandwagon is forming. The guess is it'll
carry Haynes a long way from Compton.