“Thank Heaven for little girls, they grow up in the most delightful ways,” sings Maurice Chevalier in the classic movie ‘Gigi’. A most appropriate tribute song for tennis sisters Venus and Serena, only that refrain is best edited to…”they grow up in the most ‘winning’ ways.”
(Video of the song can be found at the bottom of this post.)
This story is about the time a man with a vision who saw it through to total fulfilment‼ Richard Williams, the father of tennis phenoms Venus and Serena, made the successful journey from a man who self-taught himself tennis fundamentals and then developed two Tennis Champions who changed the women’s game.
While only youngsters, the tennis world was swirling with rumblings about their athletic ability…
but only Father knew best about their champion acumen.
Early on Richards describes Venus as a Champion-To-Be, he said: “…she possesses the four qualities all champions have naturally – Rough, Tough, Strong; and mentally, unbelievably Sound.”
Yet he reserved speaking of greatness for his comments about Serena. Father Richard predicted her tenacity would enable her to soar: “…so strong, once she gets a hold of you she never let’s go and plays with anger better than any athlete‼
Watch and listen to the Williams Sisters, though adolescents, speak boldly and clearly of their dreams. Venus at the time only 12 had won all 63 of her junior tennis matches.
And not to be outdone in accomplishments 11-year-old little sister Serena had claimed victory in all but two of her 52 matches.
Let’s speak of dreams…the dream of Venus then was to win the title on the hallowed grounds of Wimbledon; and, for Serena, the desire to lift the trophy at the grand slam of her home country, the US Open.
The rest is a kind of amazing history, the achievement of both an America Dream along with a father’s belief he had champions-in-the making…still being played out, before our very delightful eyes. The sisters now in their 30s, continue to stun the tennis establishment and fans the world over.
For now…let’s go back to the time of the beginning of the careers of Venus and Serena Williams – two little girls from Compton – and their musings as they look to the future:
AND THANK HEAVEN FOR VENUS AND SERENA WILLIAMS…
and all joy they’ve given to us on court, bringing excellence in every match, and a reality that dreams matched with drive do come true‼ Now time to share that musical moment from one of my favorite movies – ‘Gigi’:
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)
Did you know the music of Wyclef Jean accompanies the film Venus and Serena which debuted September of 2012 at the Toronto International Film Festival. The Haitian-American ‘Renaissance Man’ who first came to fame as a member of The Fugees, but has since found solo success, and the sisters go way back. He explains…
“I have a great relationship with Venus. I did [the Sundance Channel series] ‘Iconoclasts’ with her, where I was teaching her guitar & she was teaching me how to play tennis. That’s where our relationship started, and then I wrote a song for Venus, ‘Venus (I’m Ready).’
Shortly after that he saw Serena in Miami, who walked up to him and said, ‘Where’s my song?’ To which he answered: ‘Don’t worry, your song is coming!
About the film, Wyclef went on to say: “So automatically, when it was time for the documentary, naturally they would find me, thanks to my relationship with Venus and my understanding of the struggle and where they came from. They knew I could contribute something.”
Listen to documentary Song written for Serena
“Heart of a Warrior”:
What the songwriter had in mind was to convey an understanding and feeling of struggle. In his own words he explains it this way:
“Even if someone is not into sports — when they hear this song —I wanted them to feel triumph.
That’s what I get from Serena and Venus. They’re excellent at what they do, they win a lot,
but the road has not been easy,” said Wyclef.
Documentary shows Williams sisters’ vulnerable sides as Serena and Venus revisit their climb to the top echelon of world tennis. Here is a clip from the Documentary: ‘Serena and Venus’ featuring among many others comments from tennis great John McEnroe and fashion guru Anna Wintour:
Serena Williams, in the world of women’s tennis, is the most charismatic player! Serena herself has declared that there are many sides to her personality. Read on to discover why I define her as the most compelling player to listen to; and most definitely, to watch.
Take for example her surprising response in Italian, after winning the 2013 Rome Final! How she charmed the crowds with her language dexterity. And staying true to her–this gurrl loves to have fun–side; watch as she engages in some hilarious champagne popping.
Now let’s talk….about the Serena who tests and goes beyond possibility. Like when she enters the Serena zone. That’s when historical moments occur! Wimbledon 2012: Serena set a record number of 102 aces, topping all other players( men & women) in this category. She won this tournament with 248 winners(102 were Aces).
Ever the perfectionist, Williams demands of herself an extremely high level of performance. And when she doesn’t reach it, frustration can erupt like a volcano! Remember the WTA finals in Singapore? After committing many errors during her Semi Final match against Caroline Wozniacki, watch how the racquet suffers the wrath of Serena!!!
Along with her extraordinary exploits on the tennis court, Serena is all woman. And when she vamps it up, all stop and stare at her beauty: as my MoMsy used to say “proof is in the pudding”; so gaze upon her, wearing Michael Costello, at the 2014 Vanity Fair Post Oscar party. BELLEZA!
I am forever grateful to Serena, and her accomplished sister Venus, for being the initiation to my love of tennis. Humbled am I to witness the unrivaled power, grace and elegance they exude. The tennis world is all the more richer, as are we who witness!
Hopeful and prayerful that inspite of withdrawing from the 2012 Australian Open for health reasons, Venus will return to the WTA Tour this year! How wonderful it has been seeing her play during several exhibitions this past Winter. The Tennis World doubted this young African American woman would ever be a contender, much less a five time Wimbledon winner! So I for one have no doubt that if it can be done, Venus Williams will beat Sjogren’s Syndrome! Prolonging her absence from the tennis tour (since the first round of the 2011 US Open) because of an autoimmune disease that can cause fatigue and joint pain.
ONCE UPON A TIME THEY SAID WE’D NEVER BE GRAND SLAM WINNERS
OUR JOURNEY CONTINUED & WE NOW HAVE COMBINED 20 GRAND SLAM WINS
SINCE WE HOT THE HOT 30 BIRTHDAY THEY SAY WILL THEY EVER WIN SLAMS AGAIN
History proves out that the truly great professional tennis players continue winning Grand Slams at the age of 30 and beyond. The prior statement is the basis for my belief that, of course, Venus and Serena will be hoisting the winner’s trophy at additional Grand Slam events. I should not neglect to mention the gleam of gold too, that 2012 Olympic Gold in singles and doubles!
Below are a list of players who continued doing that winning thang in Grand Slam singles after turning 30:
The most recent U.S. Open celebrated Jimmy Connors and his stirring run to the 1991 semifinals at the age of 39.
Others who continued to look very familiar in Grand Slam singles after turning 30:
Billie Jean King: Won both the U.S. Open and Wimbledon.