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Their epic rise from Compton asphalt to the manicured grass courts of Wimbledon
The massive rectangular sign that hangs above the clay courts on the estate of Richard Williams in Palm Beach, FL reads simply: “King of Compton!”
In West Los Angeles, a similar sign above the asphalt courts at Rancho Cienega reads; “Venus and Serena Williams Tennis Academy!”
While tennis reigning queens Venus and Serena Williams may have left Compton nearly 20 years ago, their legacy and ironically their sorrow will forever be linked to fenced-in, rugged, asphalt courts at East Rancho where their raw skills were nourished and ultimately developed by their father Richard Williams.
City officials in Compton have long sought for their return there to share with other youngsters their magical ride from obscure poverty to sports and entertainment fame.
But after an older sister was slain in the city several years ago, that tragedy and the pain of it have keep the most famous citizens of Compton afar.
Nonetheless, one could not help but remember from where their legacy was born when the two sisters tore through the prestigious women’s bracket at Wimbledon last week to claim both the single and doubles championships, respectively.
They met in the finals last Saturday, July 5th for the second time and this time older sister Venus prevailed in a hard fought straight set match 7-5,6-4 to capture her fifth Venus Rosewater dish.
The next day, she was joined by her sister in capturing the women’s doubles championships win a straight set washout of American Lisa Raymond and Samantha Stosur 6-2, 6-2.
Combined, they have won 15 Grand Slam tournament titles and their record in head to head competition is even at 8-8.
The two have earned in excess of $100 million in prize money and endorsements since that moment their father saw a tennis match on television and recognized the winning check was more than he made for the entire year.
Their once carefully shielded lives are beginning to unfold before the eyes of the world now as they are just as famous for their athletic careers as they are for their other endorsements and professional ventures.
The impact that both the sisters have had on women’s tennis include not just making sure that prize money for women in equal to that of men, but the color of their skin is not at all lost on the still lily white sport of tennis.
Venus and Serena have elevated the popularity of women’s tennis to a stratosphere that it has never before attained, much like Tiger Woods has lifted the sport of golf beyond it’s wildest dreams.
However, unlike Woods, Venus and Serena have opened the gates to an Academy such as the Venus and Serena Williams Tennis Academy that is not just for aspiring tennis pros, but just for young kids who want to be kids and have fun.
At the young ages of 28 and 26, the critics are already predicting how much more they will play. Just like many of them never thought they would reach the heights they have.
It did not surprise me that one published article questioned how Serena reacted when she lost to her sister as if a lost to her older sister in a championship of a prestigious tournament should not allow her the same emotions as say someone white.
One of the primary problems with the entire specter of sports are not just the individuals play it, but those who cover it. For many of them and not to any fault of their own, they try explaining the feelings of an individual they have absolutely nothing in common with.
Venus and Serena are African American tennis stars who hail from Compton and no matter when they play or what tournament they win, they will forever be reminded of the color of their skin and where they came from and that is not at all a bad thing, except that we don’t have to be reminded.