My treasured moment at the 2015 Australian Open came in the third round; for the first time since 2011, both Williams sisters were still alive in the round of 16 in the same Grand Slam. Nothing could be better for this fan. Of course younger sister’s win at the Aussie Open, claiming her 19th Grand Slam and the victory speech about struggle-to-triumph that Serena gave, holds a significantly special place of it’s own.
Special as well is the Resurgence of Venus
Venus is back at the top echelon of the world tennis rankings, in lieu of her health battle with Sjogren’s Syndrome (autoimmune disorder).
After reaching the quarters in Australia, seeing her ranking rise to #11 is a phenomenal achievement!
Most notably so, as most tennis commentators and others in the tennis media had written Venus off after her announcement at the 2011 US Open that she was diagnosed with the debilitating, fatigue inducing disorder.
Venus Talks Turning Losing into Winning in Thrive Magazine
ELEVEN WAYS I GAIN MY CONFIDENCE BACK BY VENUS WILLIAMS
Sport is just like life; it’s filled with up and downs. There are times when you just can’t lose and other times when the luck always seems to go the other way. Life can be especially tough when we are dealing with challenges that are out of our control. Here’s where my story comes in.
For the best part of 2013, I had been struggling with a back injury. I’ve dealt with a lot of injuries—countless, actually. But this one was quite devastating as it took away my biggest weapon, and the life of my game, my serve. Coming back from this injury has been one of the biggest challenges of my career. I was shocked to see how much it affected my confidence.
What I quickly found was that recovering confidence can be tricky. I have made a set of rules that helped me along the way. It came through trial and error and a handful of somewhat tragic losses. Thankfully, my losses weren’t in vain: they paved the way to self-reflection and some mind-blowing insights. As they say, “The only tragedy in losing or failing is not learning from it.”
Evidence That She’s Back in Her Winning Stride Again
It’s still very early, but the 34-year old American has been most impressive, winning five of her past six matches against top-10 players. Venus has lost only one match this year (9-1), won her first title in Auckland and played in the quarterfinals of a major for the first time since the 2010 US Open (when she reached the semis).
Nothing short of awesome that Venus is still playing, returning to her old form and thriving while past opponents have long been enjoying retirement. What better illustration than this – Venus’ opponent in the Australian Open quarterfinal is the protegé of her old rival Lindsay Davenport. That quarterfinal Australian Open match is the only loss for Venus this year; to Madison Keys, who wasn’t even born when Venus played her first WTA tournament.
Davenport 38 , who retired from singles, developed a career as TV commentator and play-by-play analyst, is a married mother of four turned coach. Lindsay is proving her mettle as 19-year-old American Madison Keys reached a semifinal round in a grand slam for the first time in her career.
Wise move by the young Keys to secure such an accomplished coach: former world No. 1 and 3-time Grand Slam tournament champion Lindsay (a favorite player of mine) was in the finals of seven grand slams; two of them the Australian Open which she won in 2000. And overlooked is the fact that Lindsay remarkably came back into tour-level competition twice after giving birth.
Rivalry between Venus Williams and Lindsay Davenport
They played 27 competitive matches – more often than Venus has played any other opponent. Venus Williams played Lindsay Davenport for the first time in 1997 at Indian Wells. Twice they met in the final at Wimbledon, which Williams won each time. Many consider the 2005 Wimbledon as one of the, if not the best, women’s final ever. An epic match between two talented women, with similar games, playing it the way I love to watch – “Big Babe Tennis.”
WATCH: 2005 Wimbledon Final
Venus Williams Vs. Lindsay Davenport 2005
Venus has evolved into an elder statesman of the game, who successfully took on Wimbledon off-the-court, leading & winning the battle for equal reward money for women in tennis. [See Blog post: Venus Williams’ Other Career as Equal Pay Activist : Revisiting ESPN Film’s Documentary ‘Venus Vs.’ ] She is following in the footsteps of her mentor Billie Jean King, a legend whom Venus often quotes. Below is an exchange of tweets between the two during the Australian Open:
@BillieJeanKing thanks BJK! You have inspired me too, pressure is a privilige 🙂
10:54 AM – 24 Jan 2015
Venus Builds Career Outside Tennis
One of the greatest tennis players of all time: winner of seven Grand Slam singles titles and Olympic gold, this woman who changed the face of modern tennis is also an accomplished business woman.
Along with her thriving clothing line
Venus’ interior design firm V Starr Interiors continues to grow. For more than a decade, she has quietly run an interior design firm in her adopted home of Florida. Two years ago V Starr decorated a $6.5 million luxury model condo for a Boca Raton development. Her latest project: developer Jorge Perez’s new apartment community in Delray Beach.
…still with her epic rise back to just outside the top 10, it’s more than obvious that her passion for Tennis has not diminished.
Venus Reveals Her Winning Mindset:
How fortunate for us that Venus sat with Robin Roberts and reveals a mental approach for bouncing back that has served her well throughout her career, and … shares who her dream match would be against.
Glad you’re back Venus Williams, the Game was Simply Not the Same Without You!
Source: ONE News
After the first annual Serena Williams South Beach Ultimate Run, the sisters take time out for a selfie.
submitted by guestBlogger @BlackPearlMoi (twitter account)
Serena Williams has been winning Grand Slam titles for 15 years now – three years more than any other winning span in the Open Era. Some say a picture is worth a thousand words, well here are several…’-)
Serena has 33 total Grand Slam titles, 18 of those in singles now – starting with the 1999 US Open.
2002 French Open: Serena beat Venus in the final, the first time a little sis beat a big sis at a major.
2002 Wimbledon: Serena beat Venus in the final again, which pushed her to No.1 for the first time too.
2002 US Open: Turning heads with her Catwoman-like outfit, Serena won a third straight Grand Slam title.
2003 Australian Open: Serena saved match points in the semis and beat Venus to finish the Serena Slam.
2003 Wimbledon: Serena beat Venus for the title and stood with first-time major winner Roger Federer.
2005 Australian Open: Serena saved match points in the semis and beat Lindsay Davenport for the title.
2007 Australian Open: Defying her No.81 ranking, Serena stormed to her eighth Grand Slam singles title.
2008 US Open: Serena won the title then returned to No.1 for the first time since the 2003 season.
2009 Australian Open: Serena beat Dinara Safina to capture her milestone 10th Grand Slam singles title.
2009 Wimbledon: Serena saved match point in the semifinals and then beat Venus to capture the title.
2010 Australian Open: Serena became the first player in the Open Era to win five Australian Open titles.
2010 Wimbledon: Serena won the title but then missed almost a full year due to injury and illness.
2012 Wimbledon: She was there for Federer’s first major, and she was there for his 17th and most recent.
2012 US Open: Serena made more magic in New York, coming back to beat Victoria Azarenka for the title.
2013 French Open: For the first time in 11 years, Serena conquered her second hometown of Paris.
2013 US Open: Serena beat Azarenka in an absolute grinder for her 17th Grand Slam singles title.
2014 US Open: Serena ties Chris Evert and Martina Navratilova with 18 Grand Slam titles.
Venus Williams’ Other Career as Equal Pay Activist : Revisiting ESPN Film’s Documentary ‘Venus Vs.’
Many knew of Venus Williams’s domination on the court, but very few – and even ESPN executives – had heard of her fight to close the gender pay gap in tennis, even though she went so far as to lobby the British Parliament for financial equality.
There’s a reason why sports make for compelling movies. They’re inherently narrative, with winners and losers, blood and tears—serving up hard-fought drama on a silver trophy plate. ESPN decided to approach the topic from a new angle, focusing not on the theatrics found on the field, but the battles fought off of it.
The producers of the network’s popular ’30 for 30′ documentary program decided on a series called
‘Nine for IX’; only it’s focus is solely on women in sports.
“A year ago almost exactly was the fortieth anniversary of Title IX,” explains Libby Geist,associate director of development at ESPN Films, referring to the portion of the Education Amendments of 1972 that protects against discrimination based on sex. It was this anniversary that inspired Nine for IX, which will include nine female-directed episodes about women who have overcome adversities in the athletic realm.
Geist agrees that the goal of the series as a whole is to chronicle unknown or forgotten events. “Women really have their own history now,” she says. “It’s not all happy and fluffy necessarily, but we’ve got our own stories to tell and we’re ready to tell them.”
The sports network approached Ava DuVernay, winner of the Best Director award last year at Sundance for her film “Middle of Nowhere,” to make a film about any topic in women’s sports. She choose Venus Williams’ fight for equal pay at Wimbledon — a big story in Britain, but not widely known in the United States.
The film follows Venus Williams as a child phenom to her first championship at Wimbledon in 2000 — and again in 2001, 2005, 2007, 2008. Endorsement deals made her one of the most powerful athletes in the world — but not worthy of equal pay at arguably the most prestigious Grand Slam event.
Inspired by Billie Jean King, Williams led the charge for all the other women on the court.
The director does a superb job of telling the total story of Venus and her conscious choice to step forward, with the full weight of her brand, and take the lead in the fight for financial equality for women in tennis.
“It would be uninformed to do a story on her and her influence on the tour without acknowledging that at one point she was an outsider, and she was an outsider based on cultural politics,” DuVernay stated at a screening for the film.
“But she and the tour and her fellow players matured by having her and Serena on the scene, to the point that the one who was an outsider became the ultimate insider and the champion for this cause.”
“We say in the film, a fight for equality in any space contributes to our overall psychographic terms,” says DuVernay.
“This is part of that story, part of that narrative for women’s equality across the board, and the fact that we don’t know about it is something Venus wanted to remedy as much as I did.”
(NOTE: On Dec. 11, 2014 Ava DuVernay was nominated for best director of a feature film – ‘Selma’. She is the first woman of color and only the fifth woman ever to be nominated for the Golden Globe Award.)
The film ‘Venus Vs.’ is a phenomenal movie, and stands as evidence…both DuVernay and Williams are masters at what they do;
and mutual admiration is to be expected…speaking of the significance of what Venus did, the director commented, “I think you have to speak truth to power,” said the filmmaker. “If truth is not being spoken, then power doesn’t shift.”
This time the All England Club finally agreed to do the right thing: When Venus won her fourth Wimbledon championship in 2007, she became the first woman to earn exactly the same as Roger Federer: $1.4 million.
HISTORY-MAKING MOMENTS FROM THE DOCUMENTARY ‘Venus Vs.’
Speech Venus Gave to the Wimbledon Board Members the Day Before the 2005 Final
BACKSTORY: Things were really heating up on the equal pay issue prior to the 2005 Wimbledon tournament. The Australian Open and the U.S. Open were already offering equal pay, therefore Wimbledon became the issue’s focal point.
Apparently, the day before the women’s final at Wimbledon, the representatives of all the Grand Slams and every important tour person met for a board meeting. Well, the day before playing in the HUGE 2005 final against Lindsay Davenport, Venus chose to appear at that meeting and made a speech.
Picture this now…never before in history had a player appeared at this meeting!
With the strength of her conviction, Venus boldly stood up in front of the members of this important Board and told them to close their eyes. “No peeking,” he said.
The respect Venus commanded saw them comply with her request…a they closed their eyes.
She instructed them to picture being a little girl with a dream–whether it’s tennis or politics or business. Then she said…
Imagine that you can’t earn as much or achieve that dream just because of your gender.
The next day, Venus played what many consider one of the BEST women’s tennis finals ever…beating Lindsay Davenport 9-7 in the third set of the Wimbledon final – to win her first major in four years. Behind the entire match, she dug deep in her arsenal of resolve, to win over a familiar and very talented foe. That final lasted longer than the men’s final that year, and in my book, IS the best women’s Grand Slam finals ever – because of high quality play from Venus and Lindsay…from start to finish!
In the ‘Venus Vs.’ documentary, Venus emotionally recall her little sister Serena’s advice to her before that final, which was: “If you take your opportunities, more will come.”
Venus won that Wimbledon and the IRONY is that the women’s prize money not being equal to the men’s – meant she was forced to accept earning less money than the men’s champion, Roger Federer.
The Letter Venus Published Before Wimbledon 2006
After all of her advocacy work in 2005 came up short, Venus published the following op-ed letter in the London’s Times before Wimbledon in 2006; and, the question was raised in Parliament. Most agree that the letter became the defining moment of the entire battle for equal pay in tennis…Reprinted in it’s entirety:
Wimbledon has sent me a message: I’m only a second-class champion
The Times & The Sunday Times
June 26, 2006
The time has come for it to do the right thing: pay men and women equal prize money
HAVE YOU ever been let down by someone that you had long admired, respected and looked up to? Little in life is more disappointing, particularly when that person does something that goes against the very heart of what you believe is right and fair.
When I was a little girl, and Serena and I played matches together, we often pretended that we were in the final of a famous tournament. More often than not we imagined we were playing on the Centre Court at Wimbledon. Those two young sisters from Compton, California, were “Wimbledon champions” many times, years before our dreams of playing there became reality.
There is nothing like playing at Wimbledon; you can feel the footprints of the legends of the game — men and women — that have graced those courts. There isn’t a player who doesn’t dream of holding aloft the Wimbledon trophy. I have been fortunate to do so three times, including last year. That win was the highlight of my career to date, the culmination of so many years of work and determination, and at a time when most people didn’t consider me to be a contender.
So the decision of the All England Lawn Tennis Club yet again to treat women as lesser players than men — undeserving of the same amount of prize money — has a particular sting.
I’m disappointed not for myself but for all of my fellow women players who have struggled so hard to get here and who, just like the men, give their all on the courts of SW19. I’m disappointed for the great legends of the game, such as Billie Jean King, Martina Navratilova and Chris Evert, who have never stopped fighting for equality. And disappointed that the home of tennis is sending a message to women across the world that we are inferior.
With power and status comes responsibility. Well, Wimbledon has power and status. The time has come for it to do the right thing by paying men and women the same sums of prize money. The total prize pot for the men’s events is £5,197,440; for the women it is £4,446,490. The winner of the ladies’ singles receives £30,000 less than the men’s winner; the runner-up £15,000 less, and so on down to the first-round losers.
How can it be that Wimbledon finds itself on the wrong side of history? How can the words Wimbledon and inequality be allowed to coexist? I’ve spent my life overcoming challenges and those who said certain things couldn’t be achieved for this or that reason. My parents taught me that dreams can come true if you put in the effort. Maybe that’s why I feel so strongly that Wimbledon’s stance devalues the principle of meritocracy and diminishes the years of hard work that women on the tour have put into becoming professional tennis players.
I believe that athletes — especially female athletes in the world’s leading sport for women — should serve as role models. The message I like to convey to women and girls across the globe is that there is no glass ceiling. My fear is that Wimbledon is loudly and clearly sending the opposite message: 128 men and 128 women compete in the singles main draw at Wimbledon; the All England Club is saying that the accomplishments of the 128 women are worth less than those of the 128 men. It diminishes the stature and credibility of such a great event in the eyes of all women.
The funny thing is that Wimbledon treats men and women the same in so many other respects; winners receive the same trophy and honorary membership. And as you enter Centre Court, the two photographs of last year’s men’s and women’s champions are hung side by side, proudly and equally.
So why does Wimbledon choose to place a lesser value on my championship trophy than that of the 2005 men’s winner Roger Federer? The All England Club is familiar with my views on the subject; at Wimbledon last year, the day before the final, I presented my views to it and its French Open counterparts. Both clearly gave their response: they are firmly in the inequality for women camp.
Wimbledon has argued that women’s tennis is worth less for a variety of reasons; it says, for example, that because men play a best of five sets game they work harder for their prize money.
This argument just doesn’t make sense; first of all, women players would be happy to play five sets matches in grand slam tournaments. Tim Phillips, the chairman of the All England Club, knows this and even acknowledged that women players are physically capable of this.
Secondly, tennis is unique in the world of professional sports. No other sport has men and women competing for a grand slam championship on the same stage, at the same time. So in the eyes of the general public the men’s and women’s games have the same value.
Third, athletes are also entertainers; we enjoy huge and equal celebrity and are paid for the value we deliver to broadcasters and spectators, not the amount of time we spend on the stage. And, for the record, the ladies’ final at Wimbledon in 2005 lasted 45 minutes longer than the men’s. No extra charge.
Let’s not forget that the US Open, for 33 years, and the Australian Open already award equal prize money. No male player has complained — why would they?
Wimbledon has justified treating women as second class because we do more for the tournament. The argument goes that the top women — who are more likely also to play doubles matches than their male peers — earn more than the top men if you count singles, doubles and mixed doubles prize money. So the more we support the tournament, the more unequally we should be treated! But doubles and mixed doubles are separate events from the singles competition. Is Wimbledon suggesting that, if the top women withdrew from the doubles events, that then we would deserve equal prize money in singles? And how then does the All England Club explain why the pot of women’s doubles prize money is nearly £130,000 smaller than the men’s doubles prize money?
Equality is too important a principle to give up on for the sake of less than 2 per cent of the profit that the All England Club will make at this year’s tournament. Profit that men and women will contribute to equally through sold-out sessions, TV ratings or attraction to sponsors. Of course, one can never distinguish the exact value brought by each sex in a combined men’s and women’s championship, so any attempt to place a lesser value on the women’s contribution is an exercise in pure subjectivity.
Let’s put it another way, the difference between men and women’s prize money in 2005 was £456,000 — less than was spent on ice cream and strawberries in the first week. So the refusal of the All England Club, which declared a profit of £25 million from last year’s tournament, to pay equal prize money can’t be about cash. It can only be trying to make a social and political point, one that is out of step with modern society.
I intend to keep doing everything I can until Billie Jean’s original dream of equality is made real. It’s a shame that the name of the greatest tournament in tennis, an event that should be a positive symbol for the sport, is tarnished.
So ends the story of the woman tennis player who
took on Wimbledon as an opponent…
and finished in Victory.
Not bad for a gurrl from Compton! ‘-)
“It’s a stirring story that is skillfully rendered here. Throughout the tight, well paced film, Williams emerges as a colorful, combative, articulate presence.” Stephen Farber | HOLLYWOOD REPORTER
“Venus Vs. is a film not only triumphant in its subject matter, but in offering a narrative that is at once as empowering to female athletes, young girls looking for heroes and feminist activists, but also to all sports fans. To everyone, for that matter.” Craig Carpenter | HUFFINGTON POST
“Elegantly made.” Alison Willmore | INDIEWIRE
“Director Ava DuVernay further displays the fascinating reaches of her talents with her latest project, Venus Vs. a sports documentary for ESPN centered exclusively on the inspirational Venus Williams. As with DuVernay’s previous works, her latest is not to be missed.” Nicholas Bell | IONCINEMA
“The movie is taut, compact, and strong—just like its titular star.” Jonathan Scott | TENNIS.COM
“The crusade that Williams — and others long before her like Billie Jean King — fought is memorably captured in a new documentary by director Ava DuVernay called Venus Vs.” Murray Jacobson | PBS NEWSHOUR
“Visual choices, so striking and so precise, open up Venus Vs. to yet another set of contexts, extending beyond the ongoing effort to achieve women’s equality in sports.” Cynthia Fuchs | POPMATTERS
“DuVernay chose a story that both fits the celebratory theme of the Nine For IX series and breaks new ground.” Travis Waldron | THINKPROGRESS.ORG
“Cleverly, DuVernay incorporates footage from some of Williams’ most stunning matches as a way of not only communicating visually the blood, sweat and tears going into the battle for women’s respect on the courts, but also as a demonstration of how ludicrous the hoary claim is that women’s matches aren’t as ‘entertaining’ as men’s.” Beth Hanna | THOMPSON ON HOLLYWOOD
“The documentary benefits from a directorial specificity that makes the subject matter fresh and exciting. There’s a great athletic energy and pacing.” Nijla Mumin | SHADOW & ACT
“Venus Vs. will grab your attention from its first frame as DuVernay very aptly presents the film’s central narrative and moves the story forward in a succinct and entertaining way.” ROBERTSON SYNDICATE