Venus and Serena Williams are featured on the cover of The New York Times magazine. The article reflects back to the sisters’ childhood in Compton, California, how their father Richard branded them as superstars right from the beginning and the racism they faced as two black women taking over the lily white world of tennis. The piece also delves into why Serena refuses to return to Indian Wells and why she isn’t sorry about the outbursts she had with two officials.
About Indian Wells and those racial taunts she and Venus received in 2001:
“But I don’t need to go back there. They don’t like me. I don’t need to be there. If you can boo a teenager, and you can be white and 60 years old, you know what? I’m cool on you. I can understand maybe if they were 20, 15. But like at the French Open, the crowd boos you, but they’re young, they’re kids, they’re a younger crowd. It is what it is. You just know every time you go to Paris, you get booed, but you see so many kids in the crowd.
Paris tennis fans sound like Philly sports fans
At Indian Wells, everybody goes there when they’re retired. It’s like Palm Beach. 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.”
The incident where she told a line judge she’d shove the tennis ball down her throat:
“I was definitely stressed, and I was angry,” she said. “I don’t foot-fault. Like, I have in the past, but this woman should never make a call in the semifinals of a Grand Slam on a person who doesn’t foot-fault. She was totally wrong. I’m sorry. I’m not sorry. I looked at her like — I tried to warn her. And then she did it again. And I’m thinking, This is ridiculous.”
“What bothered me most was that I was representing my religion. I just felt like anyone who knew I was a Witness was stumbled. And I really don’t want to stumble anybody.” Indeed, Oracene had told me that the Witnesses called Serena in for a dressing-down. “They had to have a talk with me,” Serena said. “And I knew it was coming. I just felt really bad, though, because it’s like, that’s not who I am.”