One More of the Years Best Articles

In case you missed yesterdays post about the best written tennis articles of 2012 and the ten blogs the author always reads here is the link to the article:

Here is an excerpt from another one of the authors top articles:

First, this is what the blog author wrote describing the piece:

The Williams Sisters have been around for so long that we often take them for granted, but thanks to this fabulous profile by John Jeremiah Sullivan that came out right before the US Open, we were reminded how remarkable they are and how lucky we are to have them in our sport. The piece begins by looking back at a publicity video that Richard Williams made when the girls were still in elementary school, and follows them to their current superstar status through exclusive interviews with the sisters and the rest of their tight-knit family.  Venus describes the best shot of her life, Serena talks about the punishment she received from her religion after her foot-fault outburst at the 2009 US Open, and Sullivan reveals an answer to a question that I have had for some time — Venus and Serena do indeed go door-to-door as Jehova’s Witnesses to spread the word! The entire piece is worth studying, but I thought Sullivan did a particularly brilliant job shedding light on the often-controversial character of Richard Williams.

…Richard Williams remains an eternally elusive and evasive figure. I find him powerfully and movingly American somehow. His whole personality seems to have evolved as a complex reaction-structure to an insecurity so profound that it must remain secret, especially from him. Throughout his daughters’ careers, he has gone about fanning a splendor of boxing-promoter language, of lies, half-truths, boasts, misstatements, non sequiturs, buffoonery, needless exaggerations, megalomania, paranoia — as well as here and there genuinely wise, amusing lines — all of which, you begin to feel, are designed (subconsciously, yes, but no less shrewdly) to deflect attention away from a still, small center, the place where he dwells and operates. It’s there that he is who he is, whoever he is.


Here is an excerpt from the piece:

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. This is not one of the clips you’ve maybe seen, taken from various news segments, but an earlier, stranger video, made by their father and longtime coach, Richard Williams, as a kind of audition tape for the tennis-instructional guru Vic Braden, ostensibly requesting an invitation to Braden’s camp, although the real reason for it, you can’t help feel in watching, simply was to let Braden know that greatness had arrived in the world. Richard’s face in the film as he presents the girls to Braden seems, as it does so often, on the brink of laughter. This was in Compton, the low-income, gang-afflicted hub city outside Los Angeles, an area made infamous by many a rap song. 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. That was how you did it. Not fake it till you make it. You decided what you were. First you had the belief, and then you had the training. “Belief and training,” Venus told me a couple of weeks ago when I met with her in Cincinnati, where she and Serenawere playing in a tournament just days after returning from the Olympics. “That was unconquerable.”

Read the whole story here:

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