Dexter Rogers

Dexter Rogers

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Wimbledon: A Williams’ family affair indeed


Venus Williams won her fifth Wimbledon singles title as she out-dueled her little sister Venus 7-5, 6-4. It marked the first time the Williams’ sisters met in a grand slam final since 2003. Their historic clash was a family affair in more ways than one.

Personally, it was great to see order restored at top of women’s tennis. It brought back memories of when the sister act first met in a grand slam final at the 2001 US Open. It was an historic event indeed because two African American stars at the top of their games were vying for the most prized tourney in tennis. I’m thankful enough to have witnessed them make history and then arrive home safely days before the terrorist attacks.

In 2003 the Williams’ sisters met in four consecutive grand slam finals. They revolutionized the game and brought color to a sport that’s, despite their dominance, still lily white. The Williams’ sisters brought a level of talent, charisma, power and attitude never witnessed before.

The last few years the sister act has missed a lot of time on court because of injuries, off-the-court interests, their parents divorce, and having their older sister slain. Dealing with the latter caused them to miss tournaments and have their rankings dip to all time lows. Now they are back hungrier and fitter than ever.

The sister act started official began on the grand slam front nearly a decade ago with Serena winning the US Open in 1999. Venus’s Wimbledon triumph shows they’ve now gotten back to the mountain top retreat. What a ride it’s been for the Williams sisters. The way it looks much more is to come.

Let’s not forget Venus teamed with Serena to win the doubles title as well. The Williams family took home the trophies and a cool 2.5 million for their efforts. Not bad for two weeks work huh?

Let’s look beyond the surface for a moment. I think what the Williams’ family have done the last decade is one of the great feats in sports. Their parents, Richard and Oracene Williams, produced two African American champions of the highest rank in sport reserved for whites. That’s never been done before.

Two African American stars from the same family have shined brightly in a sport that’s historically been reserved for whites. Together they’ve won a total of fifteen grand slams with Serena having 8 to Venus’s 7.

The Williams’s family was not blessed with money. There wasn’t a lot of opportunity in the mean streets of Compton, California during the Williams’ sister’s formative years. So the family collectively hitched their efforts to a dream and didn’t let go until it manifested.

Their father is a strong outspoken African American male. I’ve had the opportunity to speak with him on two brief occasions. He’s surely the leader of the family without question but Oracene is certainly the glue. Despite being divorced they still work in the best interest of the family.

To further illustrate my view, let’s say Tiger had a little brother that was as good as him battling him every Sunday for the money. Tiger alone dominates his sport like no one before. Could you imagine the impact on golf if he had a brother seeking to best him in a sport historically dominated by whites?

To me their parents did an exemplary job of raising not one, but two champions. They don’t get into trouble, they are well coached, and live their lives they way they wish. They travel the world and make tons of money off their God-given talent and hard work. More importantly they are living their dreams: perhaps even bigger than they imagined.

To me the Williams family is the epitome of the American dream.

You don’t have to be a professional tennis player like the sister act to stake your claim-their vehicle is tennis, what are your dreams and aspirations? If you don’t have any find some or dust off the old ones and have at it. Only two things can happen. Either you’ll make it or you won’t.

Why not give yourself the opportunity to find out?

Family and reaching ones dreams is the theme here. Venus may be taking home the biggest prize but to me the whole family wins. It was a family affair indeed, in more ways than one.

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