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Discussion Starter #1
Do you Remember Serena's post-match interview after her semi-final loss at Roland Garros 2003 in which she stated how "she had to fight all her life?"

A series of articles show the actual truth behind her words...
 

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Discussion Starter #2
http://sport.guardian.co.uk/Print/0,3858,4572143,00.html

Ignored, resented jeered and mocked - a youngest sister moves coolly to greatness
People of the year

Caryl Phillips
Saturday December 21, 2002
The Guardian

The narrative of triumph over adversity is deeply inscribed into the consciousness of the United States, and tales of sporting endeavour generally subscribe to this obsession. Jim Thorpe, Little Mo Connolly, Billy Mills, and in recent times Lance Armstrong, are just a handful of American sporting legends whose "stories" involve their overcoming obstacles en route to their enshrinement as national icons.

I would argue that during the past year the name of Serena Williams could legitimately be added to this list, although her status as a national icon remains debatable. Despite her phenomenal 2002, she is, to many observers, little more than one half of the "problematic" Williams sisters who have "taken over" women's tennis with their power and their attitude. However, such a view belittles her achievements.

Serena Williams was born in Saginaw, Michigan in 1981, the youngest of five girls. Lyndrea, Isha, Yetunde and Venus preceded her, and soon after her birth her parents, Richard and Oracene, relocated to Compton, a rough suburb of Los Angeles. Under the guidance of their father, Venus and Serena were groomed on crowded public courts to become tennis players.

Although they both achieved early success, Richard was determined that his daughters would not suffer burn-out like Tracey Austin or Andrea Jaeger. They were encouraged to concentrate on their studies and participation in tournaments was strictly limited. Whenever they did compete the results were predictable. Both girls were extraordinarily talented, and once they turned professional they began to rise quickly through the national, and then the world rankings.

In 1999, a 17-year old Serena Williams became the first of the sisters to secure a Grand Slam title when she won the US Open. However, the media story was not so much Serena's win, but Venus's disappointment. The older sister had been expected to triumph first, but Serena's meteoric ascent surprised everybody. The following year Venus asserted herself, capturing both Wimbledon and the US Open, a feat that she repeated in 2001. Although Serena failed to win any Grand Slam titles in 2000 or 2001, her play continued to develop and it became increasingly clear that, of the two sisters, Serena had the better all-round game. The question was, did she possess the mental toughness and the desire to win?

2002 began with Serena withdrawing from the semi-finals of the Australian Open having twisted an ankle. However, after this initial setback, she won each of the remaining three Grand Slam titles and is ending 2002 as the world's No1 player. One might well ask, what is so remarkable about this? In modern times both Steffi Graf and Martina Navratilova have matched Serena's feat. In fact, in 1988 Graf not only won the Grand Slam of the Australian, French, Wimbledon and the US Open titles, she also won Olympic gold. It was a feat of such sporting audacity that even today Graf's 1988 season remains under-appreciated.

But Serena Williams's 2002 deserves to be mentioned in the same company as this achievement. In order to understand the magnitude of what Serena Williams has achieved we need to go back not to Graf nor to Navratilova, nor to comparisons with any other players past or present, but we have to return to the American narrative of triumph over adversity.

Tennis, like golf, is a sport whose gated boundaries have been defined by race and class. When the "commoner" Fred Perry won his first Wimbledon in 1934, he overheard a committee member of the All-England Club apologise to the Australian runner-up; "This was one day when the best man didn't win." Although Perry was an Englishman, the committee man was embarrassed that somebody as "uncouth" as Perry, the son of a Labour MP, should have secured victory on Wimbledon's patrician grass.

The patrons of tennis are almost always well-heeled, often royal, and there is an air of social exclusivity which pervades the sport. It is also a sport in which, at the top level, one can usually count the number of non-white participants on the fingers of one hand. The exceptions - Althea Gibson, Evonne Goolagong, Arthur Ashe - have been distinguished as much by their graceful accommodation of the tennis world's questionable mores, as they have by their tennis excellence.

Serena Williams is a young black female of decidedly blue-collar parents who entered the sport without making any self-deferential gestures or apologetic nods towards the "keepers of the game". Her parents knew that if their daughter were to successfully participate in the lily-white world of tennis then her talent would have to be such that it demanded respect, for most would look askance at their gawky black child. Richard and Oracene dared to imagine their daughter in such an environment, but they also knew that in order for Serena to survive talent alone would not suffice. They would have to arm her with a fierce self-confidence that some might interpret as arrogance, for they knew that she would be jeered, mocked, ignored and resented. And they were right.

En route to that first Grand Slam victory in 1999, Serena Williams was drawn against the former Wimbledon champion, Conchita Martinez. During this early- round match, I remember sitting courtside at Flushing Meadow and being appalled as the American crowd loudly cheered the Spaniard and booed one of their own. The following day the stories in the press made reference to the hostility that the "Williams sisters" had to endure, without acknowledging that there was only one sister on court at the time. This clumsiness was compounded by a reluctance to mention the world "racism". In fact, her father aside, only Martina Navratilova has had the courage to come right out and call it what it is.

It is not as though the US likes its sporting heroes to be shy retiring flowers; witness John McEnroe, or the current bad boy, Andy Roddick. It's just that if they are perceived to be full of "attitude" and black then they are of course, to the tennis cognoscenti, as "uncouth" as the working-class Fred Perry was in an earlier era. I watched the 18-year-old Serena Williams beat Martinez, and the manner in which the young girl handled the crowd spoke volumes not only about her maturity, but about the vision and foresight of her parents.

Of all Serena Williams's achievements in 2002, perhaps the one that will have the most lasting impact is the simple, but ultimately complex, gesture of her finding the strength to step out of the shadow of her older sibling. When Serena beat Martina Hingis and won the US Open title in 1999 - thus becoming the first of the sisters to win a Grand Slam title - the thunderstruck look on Venus's face left onlookers in no doubt as to how deep and dark that sisterly shadow really is. During the course of this year, having beaten her sister in three consecutive Grand Slam finals, it is clear that Serena no longer lives in anyone's shadow.

And what of the year ahead? Well, immediately there is the Australian Open in January, and should Serena win she will be the first player in 15 years to hold all four Grand Slam titles. She has already established herself as the most dominant player in the modern game, and her 21-year journey from the streets of Compton to the apex of the tennis world is in many ways a more remarkable story than that of Tiger Woods. En route she, like Woods, has had to negotiate the vagaries of race and class, but Tiger Woods has never had to suffer Americans cheering for foreigners to beat him, nor has he had to step out of the shadow of a talented and strong-willed older sibling. And, one should also remember that Tiger Woods is male.

Were Serena Williams a 21-year-old white American middle-class young man who had just won three Grand Slam titles in the space of a single year, she would be the most famous sports personality in America. Serena Williams knows precisely why she is not lauded in this manner, but inside she is smiling. After all, she is not playing in order to earn the kind of media attention and dollars that usually drives sportsmen and women. She has nothing against making money or receiving endorsements, but her father helped her to understand the realpolitik of American life before she had even entered her teens.

Like many African-Americans before her - Jesse Owens, Joe Louis, Jackie Robinson, Jim Brown - Serena Williams knows that her task is to quietly fulfil her destiny. Being overlooked and under-appreciated is just part of the deal. Being accused of being aloof or full of attitude is fine by her. Her eyes are fixed firmly on the prize. Around the corner lies greatness.


Guardian Unlimited © Guardian Newspapers Limited 2002
 

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Discussion Starter #3
"En route to that first Grand Slam victory in 1999, Serena Williams was drawn against the former Wimbledon champion, Conchita Martinez. During this early- round match, I remember sitting courtside at Flushing Meadow and being appalled as the American crowd loudly cheered the Spaniard and booed one of their own. The following day the stories in the press made reference to the hostility that the "Williams sisters" had to endure, without acknowledging that there was only one sister on court at the time. This clumsiness was compounded by a reluctance to mention the world "racism". In fact, her father aside, only Martina Navratilova has had the courage to come right out and call it what it is."
 

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wow, that is one of the greatest articles I've ever read on the sisters. :worship:
 

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"Richard and Oracene dared to imagine their daughter in such an environment, but they also knew that in order for Serena to survive talent alone would not suffice. They would have to arm her with a fierce self-confidence that some might interpret as arrogance, for they knew that she would be jeered, mocked, ignored and resented. And they were right. "

Great article no truer paragraph has been written about the Williams clan.

"Were Serena Williams a 21-year-old white American middle-class young man who had just won three Grand Slam titles in the space of a single year, she would be the most famous sports personality in America. "

Ok maybe this one comes close.
 

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:worship:

indeed we women want more respect :mad:
 

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Another girl, who was white and even younger by four years, won three grand slam titles in one year, in '97 and nine other tournaments (more than Serena) and she wasn't the most famous sports personality in America, either. In fact, ESPN gave its woman athlete of the year award to Mia Hamm that year. Oh, but of course, Martina wasn't American.
 

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If you listen to the interview it sounds more like she says 'farting all my life'. I think she may have been misquoted.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
http://www.sportsparademagazine.com/SPORTS.html

TIME OUT WITH CHAMP

by Peter "Champ" Clark

PLAYA HATIN

Venus & Serena Williams, the names alone denote talent, skill, class and beauty. These grand ladies of the tennis world have become so dominant in their sport that the rest of the world best professionals are regulated to competing for third place. WOW! can you imagine being a world class athlete in your given sports and before you step on the field of competition you know in your heart, soul, body and mind that you have no shot at winning the championship. You face mental defeat before you ever step on the court.

Even though SHAQ is dominant in the NBA every contending team still holds out a glimmer of hope that on a bad day the Lakers are beatable.. Not these phenomenal sisters because even on bad days these girls win.

I for one would like to know when did winning, excellence, professionalism and class become a bad thing ? Criticism and generally mean spirited commentary has rained down on these girls since the moment they came unto the tour at the tender ages of 17 & 18. The
criticism back then was that they would never develop into top talents because their father had no formal training therefore he had no business training or coaching them.

It was also said that their mother Oracene along with Dad Richard were harming the girls by not allowing them to play a full season worth of events. Imagine that, parents that are more concerned with the education of their children than the money they can generate with
their bodies. When they finally did join the tour full time after completing their education it was said that they were aloof and unfriendly.

Well, it's kind of like you being friendly when you are thrust into an atmosphere of hostility and racism. Like it or not racism still is very
prevalent in this world and many of the other top players on tour resented the fact that these two blacks girls were competing on their level. So why would you try to be friends with someone that you know from the start doesn't respect or like you. For these girls family comes first and that was instilled by their parents.

The animosity that they face only grows stronger in the past year and a half when they have crushed all opponents in winning every major tournament that they play in. Players and commentators alike openly question "that the game is somehow being hurt" by their all worldly domination.

Excuse me!! When did winning become bad for a sport? It's no
wonder that many of these other top players lose, when all they can do is whine and moan about Serena and Venus being so good. Instead of crying they need to work harder at getting better and rising to the sister's level.

If that's not bad enough you have even more hatred from players and the media alike speculating if the ladies throw the matches against each other. Well guess what ? That's just more hatred because when they play each other its for a title and they are so good and
on a level by themselves how would anyone know if th're "throwing" matches against each other.

These jealous little people could care less if the fix was on. They don't want either one of these proud African American Queens to triumph.

Finally, the last straw in this exercise in jealously and racism was the recent national comments by several members of the main stream media after Serena's recent victory in the U. S. Open. The comments centered on how "unattractive" these women were compared to their white counterparts.

That statement alone shows how deep racism runs in this country. For mainstream television and radio commentators to question the beauty
of these girls shows there ignorance. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder and to African Americans these women are simply works of art, beautiful in all aspects of the word. A beauty that is so precious that they have no equals on that front either.

Through it all these gracious young ladies keep smiling and rising like the Phoenix above the petty jealously and racism that would somehow try to limit them.

They learned those proud values from their parents and to all the "HATAS" "Get used to third place"!

You cannot stop what is meant to be!
 

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TonyP said:
Another girl, who was white and even younger by four years, won three grand slam titles in one year, in '97 and nine other tournaments (more than Serena) and she wasn't the most famous sports personality in America, either. In fact, ESPN gave its woman athlete of the year award to Mia Hamm that year. Oh, but of course, Martina wasn't American.

tonyP, break out your reading comprehension for dummys book.

Martina Hingis is not an american!
 

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I still refuse to believe that racism has anything to do with it whatsoever. Imo it's more the underdog thing, their screams on court, how they glare at their opponent, comments by Richard blablabla... I said many times, look at Chanda Rubin. I would love to know what she says about racism in the tennis world. The article for me is a bit too dramatic in tone.

By the way, the author of the first article is this the same Caryl Phillips, :confused: :
http://website.lineone.net/~stkittsnevis/phillips.htm
 

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LOL of course you would refuse to believe it, why would you want to take a look at racism, it's ugly and for those who don't face it almost daily it's easy to turn a blind eye.

"Imo it's more the underdog thing, their screams on court, how they glare at their opponent"

Are you talking about Capriati/Dokic/justine? Venus does not behave in this manner.

The very fact that people like or dislike them based on their father smacks of racism. Blacks may all look alike, but they should still be treated as individuals.
 

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I think tiger woods garners a lot of respect too
so its not a racism issue

in fact, from what i can remember abt navratilova's words, i believe she said that the whole of america was afraid to offend them because they were afraid to be accused of racism
 

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but as the writer said. she is a black and a woman

we women were discrimated for ages too (and are still in many countries :eek: )
 

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Tiger pretty much has played down his "blackness" as if. If he wasn't the best golfer on the planet, he wouldn't be able to catch a cab in New York either.
 

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People fighting

I just thought I would add a few things on this subject... Serena and how she's had to fight all her life... I can understand and believe that it's been hard to get where she is right now, those years back in Compton must have been hard, althoough maybe some of those tales about local gangs shooting all over the court where Serena and Venus were practising have been somewhat made more intriguing than they really were... At the same time, as I've already posted somewhere else, I think the French crowd gave a pretty poor demonstration of their sport culture, showing utter lack of respect for a top class athlete who was only trying to defend her own rights on court.
But in the end... someone who earns a few million dollars a year and can have more or less whatever she needs, someone whose biggest concern in Rome can be "should I make my shopping at Versace's, Armani's or Prada's?" shouldn't call her life a continuous fight... I mean there are people in the world who still struggle everyday to survive, who are still fighting for their very lives as Serena herself did in her childhood in Compton. So maybe there's no need to make such a fuss about her continuous fight, unless we're talking about fighting point after point on a tennis court. And as for that, she's absolutely brilliant, no matter how it ended last time with Henin!
 

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She was talking about her life in tennis not in general. She's had to fight on the court the crowds in amer. and abroad, not to mention her actual opponent.
 

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I liked the first article, but the second was a bit too melodramatic for me especially in light of Venus and Serena's recent losses.

There is a group of people who do not like Serena and Venus (every players has such a group). For a % of these individuals (whether that is a casual supporter, fanatics, reporters etc) racism is an underlying reason for how they react to the William sisters. For a % of the group the reason is linked to their perceived arrogance. Another % may dislike their dominance or their father's antics. It is likely that peoples' reasons overlap and that a combination of the reasons listed above will be responsible for peoples' negative opinions on the sisters.

It is impossible to put figures on the different factions of the people who dislike Venus and Serena. It is not possible to say how many people who boo during their matches are racists, how many just don't like their 'arrogance' or both.

It is wrong to assume that everyone who boos Venus or Serena has racist motives. It is equally wrong to assume that nobody booing Venus and Serena are racist. Allocating proportions to either case is a very shaky task indeed.
 

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well all that fighting really helped her then :)
 

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I don't recall anyone saying all who boo them are racist.

What I'd like to know is what has Venus done/said that makes her anymore arrogant than any of the other top ten players?

What other player on the tour is villified for the actions words of the parents? Did Steffi/Jennifer/Dokic/Pierce, lose fans because of the actions/words of thier fathers? Me thinks not, if anything people have had more empathy for them, funny how that hasn't worked that way for Venus, or Serena.
 
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