Serena Williams is proof to me that perfection exists. She serves the ball at a phenomenal 110 MPH. She moves baseline to baseline with the ease of a gazelle. She walks and talks, without saying much, like she’s proud of who and what she is. Not to mention she’s beautiful.
My first encounter with the Williams sisters was back in 2000, when on two separate occasions I spent two weeks with both sisters and their father Richard Williams. Here was Serena, tall, confident but a little standoffish. And there was Venus, open, honest and funny. Mr. Williams? Wise beyond your imagination. To say I was impressed is an understatement.
This was at a time when Mr. Williams was viewed as this crazy, outlandish man. But what people didn’t understand is this — he was crazy like a fox.
Views were so ignorant about him that I ended up in a nasty argument with my sports editor at the time, after he changed my story and called the Williams sisters “scary” in the first paragraph. How dare you call two black women, who welcomed me into their lives scary? Needless to say, I felt it was borderline racist.
WATCH MSNBC COVERAGE OF SERENA’S ILLNESS
My sports editor was convinced that Mr. Williams was nuts. After all, this was a black man from Compton. There was no way he could craft the careers of two young black women like this. How can he have this kind of insight into his children? How dare he show this kind of love and affection? Well, what I’ve learned over the years is that people know their children. And Mr. Williams knew his. He said Serena was going to be the greater of the two — and he never lied.
So when I heard that Serena had suffered a pulmonary embolism during the NBA All-Star break in Los Angeles, a subsequent hematoma, and had been hospitalized 10 days ago, I immediately reflected back to this young lady that I first met over 10 years ago. I immediately thought back to Mr. Williams and his admiration for his daughter, and when I saw that she said “My day could not get any worse,” I wasn’t surprised. I thought about a family that couldn’t help but be in peril.
Is she going to be okay? Will she ever be the same? We’re talking serious business here. After all, she hasn’t played in a tournament since winning her fourth Wimbledon last July after she stepped on broken glass at a restaurant and cut tendons in her right foot, which required two foot surgeries. Until last week she wore a walking boot to restrict movement.
Of course it’s very premature to call the career of Serena Williams over with. All we can do now is hope and pray that one of our heroes get well. We don’t think about it much, but she’s our modern day Arthur Ashe and Althea Gibson. She’s a groundbreaker.
Says Serena, ‘Thank you everyone for all of your prayers, concerns, and support. This has been extremely hard, scary, and disappointing. I am doing better, I’m at home now and working with my doctors to keep everything under control. I know I will be OK, but am praying and hoping this will all be behind me soon. While I can’t make any promises now on my return, I hope to be back by early summer. That said, my main goal is to make sure I get there safely.”
Please do. We miss you already.