Venus and Serena Against the World


Found this gem from the New York Times through SI‘s “Beyond the Baseline” Blog.  “Beyond the Baseline” is an excellent tennis blog and a great source for all things tennis without being a blog that covers all the same things that ESPN, CBS, NBC and others cover.  I’m notsure, after reading it, that the title fits the article, but I highly recommend the article for an insightful and unique look at the Williams Sisters.  Here are a few excerpts.

There’s video that exists of Venus and Serena Williams playing tennis when they were kids — 8 and 7, respectively — in the late ’80s, on unshaded but otherwise decent-looking public courts in California. …  Although they enjoyed about as stable an upbringing as you could have in Compton back then, its problems were no mere abstraction: they supposedly knew to lie down on the court when gunshots rang out in the park. And there’s a story that Richard, when asked what he would do if his daughters ever won a Grand Slam, said he would go back and try to help the Crips who sometimes looked out for the girls during their practice sessions. “Venus Williams Is Straight Outta Compton!” read an early promotional poster their father made, to post on telephone poles. He billed the two as celebrities before they were even famous.

The story has been told so many times, of these early years, when Compton got used to the sight of the little girls who would always be playing tennis at the public park — or riding around in their faded yellow VW bus with the middle seat taken out to accommodate the grocery cart full of balls — but somehow the strangeness and drama of it retain a power to fascinate. The idea of this African-American family organizing itself, as a unit, in order to lay siege to perhaps the whitest sport in the world and pulling it off somehow. “I remember even talking to my sisters and brothers,” Oracene said, recalling a time before anyone had ever heard of the Williams sisters, “and telling them: ‘The girls are going to be professional. We’re going to need a lawyer, and we’re going to need an accountant.’ ”

Read the whole article – HERE

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