Alone Together: Venus and Serena’s remarkable journey

Serena and Venus Williams have been trained vigorously since they were just children for a moment like the Australian Open. They have met nine times in majors and each time it is no surprise. These are two of the greatest athletes we may ever see in American sports history. But they’re distinct from other athletes placed in our collective pantheon of greatness; they are African-American women. 

If you’re not a competitor, you’ve just got to go home.

Venus Williams

This has never been something that they let hinder their success, even when the president of the Russian Tennis Federation once called them “brothers” and said they were “scary” to look at. They let that one go and made it about winning on the court.

Serena has racked up dozens of Grand Slam Singles titles while her sister has had almost as many. Both have been number one in the world as singles and were number one in the world in doubles. All they do is win and win with class, charm, and regal dignity. The haters and hangers-on who look past what these two amazing people are doing are of no consequence to them. They are here to compete and to win each match, not to win people over.

Their father, Richard Williams coached them at an early age and realized these girls had more than just a little potential to make it in the world of tennis early. But their father knew that it would be more than just tennis that they had to defeat. In his biography about raising his tennis pro daughters he talked about bussing kids into Compton, California while they practiced and having the kids surround the girls on the court. He instructed the onlookers to call his daughters every name they could think of, including racial slurs, he wanted them to “do their worst”.

Family’s first, and that’s what matters most. We realize that our love goes deeper than the tennis game.

Serena Williams

This seems overtly cruel and borderline crazy. But what Mr. Williams was preparing his daughters for was on onslaught of racial tinder that has been quelled not by vociferous argument but rather by joyous winning. Serena took the title from her sister and it didn’t seem like anybody won or lost. They both had beautiful beatific smiles on their faces, signifying not what they have done in this tournament, but what they have done for the game, for what they have done as role models.

It wasn’t like I was self-motivated. My dad started me. It was his dream before it was mine.

Venus Williams

You will occasionally see Serena in a Nike or Gatorade commercial and if you’re a music fan you’ve undoubtedly noticed her in the Dr. Dre Beats Headphones commercial.

Maybe you’ve seen Venus in the Silk Soy Milk commercial, leaping up and smashing a tennis ball while some music plays. Or maybe you missed those particular commercials or maybe you just didn’t recognize two of the most winning and unbelievable siblings in American sports history. It’s possible. They don’t adorn billboards around the country, or show up incessantly hocking watches, cars, or clothes. They have never had to sell out to sell themselves and never played into any stereotypes like other athletes, scantily clad and sultrily selling a product that has nothing to do with bare skin.

I’ve had so many offers in the past to do different movies or different things and I always choose tournaments over it.

Serena Williams

These women are what we want our kids to grow up to be; unscathed, successful, dominant yet never domineering. They are the epitome of success, hard work, determination, and dignity. Winning is only about winning, not winning people over, or curing social ills, or using it as a political platform to inflict change in the minds of the uninformed. They don’t have to do all that. They’re doing it already. Actions speak louder than words.

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