This is What Tennis Racism Looks Like…

I love Venus Williams; but Serena Williams is the one. Both sisters have been attacked for YEARS by members of the tennis community under the guise of legitimate criticism. The two sisters are treated as if they are one, interchangeable entity. And they are: they are white folks worst nightmare. A black tennis player who ain’t country club bred and will bust you upside the head and take all kinds of Grand Slam booty.

They are simply despised because they are black and proud and unbowed. This week, the tournament at “Indian Wells” begins – but without Venus and Serena. Eight years ago, an exceptionally ugly incident took place that has been hard to find on YouTube or on video anywhere.

Venus was to play Serena in the semifinals of the tournament in 2001; she ended up pulling out, ten minutes before the match. The tournament sponsors, ESPN and the assembled crowd were all caught off guard. People had been speculating that the matches between the two sisters were fixed , by their father, on what evidence: white folks’ intuition.

The following video is the last game of the final between Serena and Kim Clijsters of Belgium. Serena, Venus and their father had been booed unmercifully at the outset of the match. Watch this video to see how Serena handles racist adversity; then follow the link to YT and check out the entire match, especially the first segment.

And some people question why the Williams family don’t go back Injun Wells. Puhleaze?!

16 Responses to “This is What Tennis Racism Looks Like…”

  1. thank you for this post .

    My husband teaches tennis , and we love them in our house . I woould deffinitly like to meet these ladies, quite unbelievable ! It is funny , most black blogs only mention the light skin chicks . I am so glad you wrote about them , this posts evokes POWER!!!!!

    RIGHT ON !

  2. Byrd, where does your hubbie teach? The sisters are powerful – this is why they must be squelched. It is just that simple.

  3. It’s interesting that you would choose to retain the two that I see here. One, is the most ignorant comment from a positive supporter of the sisters and the other, the most ignorant comment from an ignorant mind. When I commented I attempted to provide facts and and evidence to refute your claims. I am not in direct opposition to your statements, but I also don’t appreciate censorship. It is becoming increasingly obvious that you are correct about racism. It is very prevalent in society even today. Unfortunately it is from both sides of the coin. We need to let it go and move on. I will never attribute racism to my short comings in life, and I will never allow it to stop me from pursuing my goals. That would be the easy path that many of your subscribers seem to follow.

  4. Angel, what are you talking about???

  5. Hello freeslave,

    All I can say is that I am not black nor white, I am Asian but I love the sisters. In fact me and my 70-year old father likes both and we could be their biggest fan here in the Philippines.

    My father has been to Italy and he never stopped seeing the matches featuring any of the two sisters and for those who seem as if they can’t believe the greatness of Venus nor Serena with respect to tennis, all I can say is that this is just sports and we should all be well aware that somehow sports is sports and nothing should keep us from binding together at least in this field.

    We have our own champ here in the Philippines in the person of Manny Pacquiao and did you guys know that whenever he has a fight – “all crimes were put to a halt” and we end up all eyes on the television. This is what great champs are for and that includes the 2 sisters for me.

  6. Freeslave, as I had previously stated, I think you are an excellent blogger. I wonder if you’ll take a moment to help me with a situation. As you’ve stated, Venus and Serena have dealt with racism the likes of which most people could not comprehend. Think for a moment of Shahar Peer, a WTA player on the rise from Israel. When the 2009 Dubai tournament, one of the most ostentatious and financially rewarding tournaments outside of the Slams came up on the calendar, she was denied a visa by the United Arab Emirates just 24 hours before the start of the competition. She was informed, in so many words, that “your kind is not welcome here.” This to me is pure racism, not the “sticks and stones” adversity most African-Americans in the United States carry on about. My issue with this tournament is that not only was this tangible documentation of racism in tennis, Richard Williams accusations are speculative and conjecture as far as I’m concerned, boos are not tantamount to racial epithets, but Venus and Serena both competed in this tournament and Venus ultimately triumphed. Venus did use the award ceremony to speak out against the UAE exclusion of Peer; but wouldn’t it have made more waves if two of the tours’ biggest draws boycotted this tournament? Don’t they have an obligation to use their celebrity to better the lives of others; or is only when they are directly affected? The frightening thing is that if the Williams sisters had shown up to play Indian Wells they may have been called Nigger; if Peer had shown up in Dubai she may have been assassinated, this is the real racism in the world.

    • Angel, did the folks in Dubai bar her out of racism or objections to her country’s brutal oppression of Palestinians? If they barred her because she is a citizen of Israel and they oppose Israeli policy and decided they didn’t want this Israeli woman in their country, race has nothing to do with it. Her citizenship is the issue, not her race and the government of Dubai made a political decision, not a racial.

      If Peer was a Jew from the US and barred from Dubai because she is a Jew, that could be considered racist.

      To try to draw a false equivalence between the racial abuse Serena and Venus Williams have suffered and what Peer went through is wrong headed.

  7. Excellent point, and 100% correct I might add, but historically sports was supposed to be separate from politics; the Olympics started that ideology. How can you assume that one citizens’ personal beliefs are congruent with their leaders. She was not representing Israel, but rather herself, and was denied an opportunity to further her career in both points and prize money. Those restrictions on personal freedoms based on heritage or race are exactly what discrimination is. Andy Roddick, the “white-bred” defending champion on the male side, withdrew in support of Peer and ultimately sacrificed those points from his years ranking. Venus stated that she would have withdrawn but commitments to sponsors prevented her. More plainly stated: capital took precedence over her moral and ethical beliefs; or, she just didn’t care. I hope I’m not getting too far from your initial point, as it was a valid one, but I would like to hear substantial, verifiable proof of instances where either Venus or Serena were denied personal liberties or opportunities based on their skin tone. Name calling aside, I believe those women are too strong to allow that to hinder them, what happened? They made a personal choice to withdraw from a tournament (Indian Wells) based on a few ignorant ticket holders. The tournament itself had nothing to do with what transpired yet the sponsors were fundamentally held accountable for, and denied, the opportunity to profit from the Williams marquee name; yet they cited obligations to those same sponsors in Dubai as the reason they could not secede. There’s no evident perpetuity here…Freeslave, on a side note, I’d love to sit down and bullshit with you for an evening! You are good man!

    • Angel, what did Shahar Peer say that she hoped the other players would do – after not receiving her visa? She said she wanted the show to go on. She said she didn’t want anyone to boycott the tournament; that was her wish. Is it possible that the other player’s heard her say that? I don’t know why people love to character assassinate the Williams sisters. They played for the money?! How about, they played because they’d flown half way around the world, were scheduled to play in a tennis tournament and, being non-political as per their religion, simply followed through on the commitment they’d made to the tournament?

      You disparage their reasons for not playing Indian Wells. I don’t know if you are white or not, but I wouldn’t go back to a place that reacted as violently as that crowd did. They crowd was vicious and they were frightening. You’re talking about two young black women who were BOTH booed like they were monsters, simply because of a last minute default. The tournament directors never came to the Williams sisters’ defense. They could have – they could have grabbed the mike and halted the match and told the crowd to cut it out – but they chose not to. And no other players have said a word about what happened to the sisters there. So why should these non-political sisters, who stood up for themselves by choosing to not go to a place they were not wanted, be damned for not sticking their neck out for Shahar Peer? I think you’ve got it twisted.

      Furthermore, sports cannot be divorced from politics, in spite of what the Olympic charter says. And the Olympics are the most political of sporting events. Mexico City? Munich? Moscow? Los Angeles? When have the Olympics not been political?! It was political that the Beijing Olympics suppressed so much of the reality of oppression in their society, Tibet, their prison industry, the birth restrictions, etc. To cover up reality is as political as pointing it out. You can’t avoid it.

  8. For Peer to say that her wish was for everyone to continue was the quintessential obligatory statement that anyone would say at such a time, in reality, everybody loves a show of personal support and nothing ever gets resolved without such showings of solidarity. Please do not use their religious beliefs as a justification for their omission of support; even the Watch Towers translation of the Protestant Bible states clearly how man should treat his fellow man. If they are so diligent in the adherence to the word of their religion then why have the sisters dated men outside of their ideology? This is not permitted in their doctrine. Also, the idea that they traveled half way around the world to compete in that one tournament is absurd; the Williams’ were in Paris the week before, so it’s not as if they hopped a red-eye from Compton to Dubai! Dubai however is not considered a Premier Tournament, meaning, any participation there is strictly voluntary. Indian Wells is a Premier Tournament and is mandatory participation by all top seeds barring injury. So to say that they were fulfilling commitments by competing in Dubai is hypocritical in justifying their absence from Indian Wells. You are definitely correct, it is naive to assume politics do not play a major role in sport, but it was never meant to be that way. I implore you, once again, to give me ONE documented case of either of the sisters being DENIED a personal freedom due to the fact that they are black! Everyone in sport deals with adversity, especially unruly fans, and all of the greats have. So, without regurgitating this instance where they were “booed” (poor baby), give me something. What was frightening about it? Was anything being hurled at the girls? Was there a overwhelming sense of impending riot? The answer to all of these questions is a resounding- no. I watched this match in its’ entirety, not in clips on YouTube! Has any other player, male or female, suffered the indignity of being booed off the court- yes. Do the tournament directors do what they can to placate the audience, of course they do, but Indian Wells is one of the largest stadiums outside of the Slams; to suggest that they perhaps suspend play to punish indignant ticket holders would only serve to worsen the situation. Your inquiry as to whether I am white or not only cheapens this debate, I am however PROUD to state that I am black, and not proud to say that I am not white; I am what I am and I love those around me for the people they are, with everyone’s faults. So please, for the sake of argument, show me real racism towards the sisters. It’s a simple question

    • Angel, what’s funny is Venus offered her support in her statement following the championship match. But that’s not good enough. Not for you. No, she needed to follow your course of action. Only that action is acceptable, or I should say, would have been acceptable. But I think, if she had pulled out, that decision would have been scrutinized and picked apart in order to find something wrong with it. The energy that you commit to proving a negative is fascinating. To go to those lengths to prove how fucked up the Williams sisters are is truly impressive.

      The fans booing isn’t enough of a justification for you either. Hilarious. No, they have to suffer real racism “as you define it” because, of course, you and you alone know what real racism is and only people who suffer what YOU know to be racism deserve our sympathy or have an out with you. I guess you are right, Angel. We are all frauds. If I had known that all I have to do to understand racism was to have you tell me what it is, I would have emailed you long ago.

  9. Like to thank Angel & TheFreeSlave for some really great discussion on the overall effect of the Williams sisters and their response to this whole situation. I understand why they aren’t going to Indian Wells BUT they might attempt to go to see if Indian Wells has changed or not. IT would be expecially enjoyable if one of them won the tournament.


  10. Actually Freeslave, the issue here is that you do not seem to handle debating well. A good debate would ideally have one side argue their point of view and then have it counter-argued by the opposition. Whenever you bring up a point of contention with my postings I have generally made successful re-directs right back with tangible facts. However, when I do it seems to irritate you to the point where you attack and become argumentative; this is not how a proper debate should be handled. I’m afraid for African-Americans because it appears so many would love to live in your world, a world where there are haves and have-nots, and the have-nots are that way because of the color of their skin. It almost appears in your musings that you feel that black people are weak minded and need to have everything handed to them. Let’s face facts together as we are of (probably) similar heritage; the world hates black people. There I said it. My issue is that I can sometimes understand why. Too many of us are apathetic to our status in the world except when we feel we can benefit from it. Too many blogs revealing how many ignorant black people have computers but no real understanding of how to compose a paragraph to convey their point of view (not you). Bottom line is you think I am anti-Williams, when in fact if you’ve really listened to what I was saying, you would see that I respect them immensely. I do however take issue with pulling “the card” for every circumstance.

    • Well, Angel, I feel like if you offered a cogent, well thought out argument, I would examine its merits and accept it. But I don’t think you have and that’s where we part company. You believe that you have given me something to really consider and I don’t think you have. No problem; it is what it is.

  11. I fear that any opinion that differs from your own falls on deaf ears. That being said, I will continue to read your blog as I enjoy it. It’s a wonderfully entertaining break from the real world. Keep it up! Uhh sorry, I meant, keep it “real”!

  12. Have you ever read the blogs and comments on Yahoo Sports (Tennis)? Blatant racism, shameless double-standards! They encourage white folks to describe black players & in their families ugly, dehumanising terms, and then ban coloured people who attempt to respond in kind! That’s why I had to start this new blog:!

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