“Belief and training” is the mantra for success recited by Venus Williams in the latest The New York Times Magazine cover story featuring the Williams sisters, tennis stars still basking in their Olympic medal wins.
Probably still beaming from attaining doubles gold with her sister, Serena Williams earned the extra accolade during the Games of becoming the second woman in tennis history to win a career Golden Slam. That’s right — that means winning every Grand Slam tournament and the Olympic gold medal in the course of her career. A rarity to be sure, yet both ladies stand shoulder to shoulder as equals in the stunning image, their incredibly fit bodies outlined with muscles illustrating the power of their careers and their beauty as black women.
In addition to their chiseled figures, the Times article reveals their rise from obscurity as children in Compton through the coaching of their enthusiastic father, Richard Williams — plus what each sister feels are her career highs and lows.
In discussing the best shot of her career, Venus shared: “I did a play that I normally don’t do. Something moved my body. The next thing I know, I’ve left. I don’t remember making my body move. I’m just hitting the shot. Now, I have a great one-handed backhand volley. But I hit it two-handed! I don’t know what happened. It was like watching myself from above when that happened, and like I feel like, this is the best shot of my whole life.”
Serena discussed coping with racial slurs at the Indian Wells Masters series in 2001, and her decision to permanently boycott the event.
“They don’t like me. I don’t need to be there,” she said. “I thought, people like Martin Luther King Jr. boycotted things. And this is nothing on that level. Look at Muhammad Ali, he didn’t even play, he went to jail because he didn’t want to go to war. The least I can do is stand up for my people and not go there. That’s the very least I can do. It’s not even that hard of a decision. I get a vacation on those two weeks. It’s like the easiest decision of my career. They can penalize me to death, I’m never going back.”
Even their mother weighed in on their amazing track record of success. “I reflected on the fact that in the United States, you don’t have many players that are doing well,” Oracene Price told the Times. And then you have these two old, black girls, up in age now, and they’re still holding up America. That to me was remarkable.”
Venus and Serena Williams have consistently won big and had tremendous staying power, two rarities in the world of tennis for players of any race. The Times‘ recognition of the Williams sisters’ unique achievements on the heels of their Olympic glory is right on time.
Follow Alexis Garrett Stodghill on Twitter at @lexisb.