The US team lost in the Fed Cup final 3-0 to the Italian team. Venus and Serena Williams decided not to participate.
Young American Melanie Oudin surely wanted to represent her country though. Oudin, who lost to Flavia Pannetta which gave the Italians an insurmountable lead of 3-0 in a best-of-five series stated: “I wanted to come here. I wanted to play for my country. Other people choose different things.”
Oudin continued, “Some people I guess didn’t want to play as badly as I did. But I think that the team that we had here really wanted to be here,” Oudin said. “You don’t want people here that don’t want to be here. Even if you lose, if you give it everything you have, then that’s the best you can do.”
Who is Oudin referencing when she states, “you don’t want people here that don’t want to be here?”
Without question Oudin is referencing the Williams’ sisters. Perhaps if Oudin was winning Grand Slams, was No. 1 in the world and representing her country her words would have more sting and validation.
Oudin made an impressive and surprising run at the US Open. She made it all the way to the quarterfinals. Some have anointed Oudin as being the next big thing in American tennis. Time will tell, but here are my thoughts.
Going back to the US Open, I can remember during Oudins’ impressive run that everyone got very excited that an-up-and coming “American” was doing so well. I can distinctly recall tennis analyst John McEnroe stating on two occasions that Oudin was “the last American standing” in the tournament.
When McEnroe made his statement Serena Williams was still very much alive in the tournament. Isn’t Serena an American?
McEnore’s statement demonstrated how a segment of white America views Serena Williams. Mistake or not his words were very disrespectful. It questioned her citizenship and her legitimacy as being the face of American tennis.
At the US Open Oudin gave a segment of American tennis hope. Many have been waiting for a white player who can possibly be the face of American tennis just like the good ole days when Tracy Austin and Chris Evert dominated in the 1970’s and early 1980’s.
Just think, if Oudin can manage to do well then tennis can have a “real” American represent instead of the adopted Maria Sharapova.
Despite the success of the Williams’ sisters over the last decade a segment of the tennis establishment are not comfortable with having African Americans dominate. They are not comfortable with having two African Americans raised under one roof take over a sport historically reserved for whites.
Can you name me a set of brothers and sisters of any race who both dominated a professional sport like the Williams’ sisters?
In the course of establishing and maintaining their strangle-hold on tennis the Williams’ sisters have made decisions that aren’t embraced. One of those decisions being their unwillingness to consistently play Fed Cup tennis. I see it like this: if this is America you have a choice to do as you please so long if it’s under the jurisdiction of the law. If the Williams’ sisters don’t want to play Fed Cup they don’t have too.
Some see the Williams’ sisters desire to not represent the ole “red, white and blue” as a slap in the face. Where was the “ole red, white and blue” when the entire Williams’ family was subject to racist taunts at Indian Wells in 2001? Where was the outcry when Serena was mercifully booed in the final where fans reportedly called members of her family “nigger” among other things?
As a result the Williams’ sisters vowed to never step foot at that tournament again and they haven’t.
It cuts both ways: you can’t condemn the Williams’ sisters for not playing representing their country and simultaneously do nothing when “Americans” have been victimized by racism on tour.
Bottom line: if Melanie Oudin has a right to speak her peace. She’s free to say how she feels. But at the same time the Williams’ sisters have a right not to play Fed Cup if they don’t want to.