Serena's father 'not surprised' by arrest

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Serena's father 'not surprised' by arrest

Post by onlyguy on Fri Sep 11, 2015 9:09 pm

Was it racism or a case of mistaken
identity? When former tennis pro James Blake,
who is biracial, was tackled to the
ground by police in New York this week,
it came as no shock to the father of the
game's first black female No. 1 player. "We've had so many things happen to
people of my kind and my color, it's not
surprising, not at all," the 73-year-old
Richard Williams told CNN. That view is not shared by NYPD
Commissioner Bill Bratton, who insists
the Blake incident was a case of
mistaken identity, and a case of
excessive force. "I don't believe that race was a factor,"
Bratton said. "This rush to put a race tag
on it, I'm sorry, that's not involved in this
at all." Williams' comments mirror those of his
daughter Serena, who told CNN ahead
of her bid to make tennis history at this
month's U.S. Open that "a lot of people
in America and outside America are
frustrated and concerned and really scared" about recent high-profile
incidents involving police. For Richard Williams, who moved his
young family from Michigan to the city of
Compton in the early 1980s, the problem
of racism in society has been a constant
factor as his daughters Serena and
Venus have grown into tennis champions. "I think it hasn't changed that much at all
(since I was a kid) -- matter of fact it may
have gotten worse, I don't know ... but I
don't think it's changed that much," he
told CNN. Williams says his daughters' upbringing
in the tough urban environment of
Compton, where he often brought in
local kids to shout insults at the girls
while they practiced, helped them on the
pro circuit. "In order to be successful, you must
prepare for the unexpected," he said
from his home in West Palm Beach,
Florida, where the family moved to
continue the sisters' tennis education. The Williams family famously took a
stand against racism when Serena was
abused during the final at Indian Wells
in 2001. Neither sister again played at
the Californian tournament until this
year, when Serena made her return. "The whole crowd turned against her,"
he said of the Indian Wells incident,
which was fomented after Venus pulled
out of her semifinal against Serena at
late notice. "All she had to do was remember the
training that she had been through." A successful businessman, Williams
didn't need to move the family from
Saginaw but he says he felt Compton
"would be the best place for them." "The ghetto will make you rough, will
make you tough and will make you
strong," he said. Despite having played such a key role in
molding the careers of his two
daughters, Williams admitted he could
not watch this week when Serena beat
Venus to advance to the semifinals at
Flushing Meadows. "I've never watched Venus play with
Serena. It's like watching your kids fight.
They're just too close. I can never watch,
I never have," said Williams, who
divorced from their mother Oracene
Price in 2002 and remarried in late 2010. While Serena is on the brink of tennis
history, hoping to become the first player
since Steffi Graf in 1988 to win all four
grand slams in a calendar year, Williams
paid tribute to older sister Venus -- who
in 2002 became the first black woman of the professional Open Era to be ranked
No. 1. "Venus changed tennis altogether,
period. Venus was not accepted when
she first came onto the scene. Not at all.
She changed this sport. Venus and
Serena made things so different, they
raised the bar." Venus, 35, won the last of her seven
grand slam titles in 2008 but has since
had to come to terms with having
Sjogren's Syndrome -- an autoimmune
disease which has had debilitating
effects on her energy levels. Serena, 33, has looked unbeatable after
her own serious health scare, winning
eight grand slam titles since a freak foot
injury in 2010 led to a near-fatal blood
clot in her lungs. However, she remains one short of
Graf's modern record of 22 slams and
three behind Margaret Court's all-time
mark after suffering a surprise semifinal
defeat against Italy's Roberta Vinci on
Friday at the U.S. Open. Before that match, her father had said
the achievement of a possible calendar
grand slam would be "unbelievable." "It's hard for me to talk about. It brings
tears to your eyes to think where they
came from," he said. "I couldn't live the way I live if it wasn't
for them. Serena often likes to let me
know that if it wasn't for me, she
wouldn't be where she is. That's enough
to make you cry. "I try to get them to believe that they
pushed themselves, not me. Too many
parents push their kids the wrong way,
and that could've been me at one time. "But I hope the two of them, whenever
they retire, that they can accept what
they have." Both Venus and Serena also have
extensive off-court interests, and this
drive to succeed in all areas can be
attributed to their father, says CNN
tennis correspondent Ravi Ubha. "Everything they have become has been
a result of Richard putting them into
tennis, and not only in tennis," Ubha
said. "Venus just recently graduated from
university. She's long had a very
successful interior design company;
Serena has her own fashion line. It really
stems from what Richard did."

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