Serena Williams made history last weekend, becoming the first female tennis player to win 23 Grand Slam titles in the Open era (Margaret Court won 24 such titles). Unfortunately, Serena had to beat big sister Venus and deny her her eighth such title.
There are several things that I found noteworthy about Serena’s latest achievement.
The mere fact that Serena has been racking up titles after the age of 30 is nothing short of amazing
Can you name anyone in tennis who has continue to dominate tennis in his/her mid 30s (ok, MAYBE Roger Federer has remained a factor)? Serena’s work ethic and commitment is nothing short of legendary. She’s in better shape than a lot of athletes in their 20s!
Oh, and remember when tennis great (and a former crush) Chris Evert said of Serena (and Venus)? I do too.
And while I STILL respect – and love to look at – Ms. Evert, she was a little bit off on that one.
Serena is the ultimate “People’s Champion”
For those who are not familiar with Serena’s backstory, her parents taught her and Venus how to play tennis. Both sisters did not go to tennis prep academies, for her parents couldn’t afford it. The Williams sisters applied their trade on the tennis courts in Compton, California – with grass growing between the cracks.
And who would’ve bought the notion of one of those sisters, after learning to play tennis in the inner-city, becoming arguably the best tennis player of all time. Exactly.
The fact that Serena (and Venus) becoming an all-time great is self-made in a privilege-ladened sport is nothing short of remarkable.
Black America is proud of Serena
We as Black Americans have a special kind of love for Serena (and Venus) for one simple reason. She embraced her blackness.
I could list several black athletes that, while dominating a majority white sport, have shunned their blackness.
Remember Tiger Woods? Y’all knew what he said after someone in the media had the nerve to call him a black golfer.
“I’m ‘Cablinasian’, dammit.”
(okay, he didn’t say the last part)
Serena embraced her blackness. Hell, she and Venus wore braids when they first started playing professionally.
Imagine just how much they stuck out among their competitors. Calling them sore thumbs wouldn’t be enough.
However, whatever trial and tribulation came her way, Serena (and Venus) remained true to herself. She was never ashamed of her blackness. And I, and many other brothers and sistahs, love her for it.
Keep on, keepin’ on Serena…