I place this article on my blog because images of successful, smart, powerful, gracious, and beautiful black women are in short supply in our American media culture. This would be front page news everywhere in American if the Williams sisters were of another hue. They are a great example of true sisterhood and teamwork. —Nadine Patterson
From London: Sunday July 8th The Telegraph
Glory is gauged in fives for the Williams sisters: five Wimbledon singles titles for Serena, five for Venus and, thanks to another superhuman flourish late on Saturday night, five doubles trophies for the pair of them.
Arguably the greatest dynasty in the history of tennis just continue to confound, not least the all-conquering Serena, who has become the first woman since Martina Navratilova to seize the Rosewater Dish past the age of 30.
“I’m like a fine wine,” she said, with her usual coquettishness. “I keep getting better with age.”
Her assertion was difficult to dispute as she surged to her three-set triumph over Poland’s Agnieszka Radwanska, before combining with Venus for the pair’s 13th grand slam doubles success in 13 finals.
The Centre Court crowd have never extended much warmth to the Williams clan, but this latest chapter of their dominance was perhaps the most extraordinary yet. Where Serena had returned from a serious foot injury and potentially fatal pulmonary embolism, Venus has also been battling the fatigue-inducing Sjögren’s syndrome. Their resilience was astounding. So could we, at last, hear it for the sisterhood?
“I want to keep doing more and to keep playing well,” said the ecstatic Serena, resplendent in her magenta headband. “I don’t think about any legacy at all yet. I’m definitely going to be playing for many more years to come.”
The only sensation, one felt, which could have eclipsed that of a 14th slam success would be a gold medal in the doubles with Venus at the London Olympics in three weeks’ time.
Thanks to the influence of father Richard, the pair grew up watching documentaries on the Games – “we saw a lot of Greg Louganis and Jackie Joyner-Kersee,” Venus reflected – and are consumed by a belief in the Olympic ideal. “It’s definitely the pinnacle of sport,” the elder Williams said. “People live and die in those Olympic moments, so for us it’s about sharing that moment with our country and the world and each other.”
Serena was just two years-old when the Games came to her home city of Los Angeles in 1984, and gave a performance at this year’s Wimbledon of truly Olympian spirit. Having channelled her natural defiance to beat Radwanska in two hours of riveting power tennis, she gave emotional thanks to her family for sisters her through her medical ordeals.
“It means a lot to the family,” she admitted. “It doesn’t matter if it’s me winning or Venus winning, if it’s a big tournament or a small. It’s exciting, because we all worked really hard. It’s always exciting, but it has been two years since I ran into all that trouble, and now I’m coming back.”
A committed Jehovah’s Witness, Williams acknowledged that her outlook on life had been transformed by recent experiences. Having survived a blood clot and lung problems after cutting her foot on a bottle in Munich – an episode that led to several weeks in hospital and extended convalescence at home – she explained that her faith had been strengthened.
“God and tennis are my priorities in life,” she said. “Tennis is what I have, and I know I’m good at it. It’s one thing that I can rely on, it never really lets me down and I can do so much with it. I really appreciate everything that I have.”
She was also visibly delighted to be informed, in the aftermath of her latest coronation, that John McEnroe had described her as “the greatest women’s player ever to have played the game”. While Martina Navratilova and Steffi Graf might have equally strong claims to such a mantle, Serena was not about to demur.
“That’s amazing for me. I put so much effort into what I do, and I loved John McEnroe growing up. Even though I didn’t really get to see him play, I heard that he was legendary and I loved him. So for him to say something like that is just unbelievable.”
So, where next for the unstoppable Serena? As she continues to demonstrate such poise and power beyond her 30th birthday, the pursuit of Graf’s benchmark of 22 slam titles does not seem inconceivable. “Right now I’m just living in the moment,” she said. “I have perspective and I celebrate harder. I’m still trying to process this win I would love to be world No 1 again, but if I had to choose now between grand slams and rankings, I would choose the slams. I’ve been No 1, but those slams add up.
“I know people were thinking, ‘Can she do it again?’ But now I’m winning titles. I don’t hear what people say, and quite frankly I don’t really care. Everyone’s allowed to think and say what they want. Ultimately, I’m the one out there, and I make my own destiny.”