A salute to the Williams Sisters

Posted by Lou. The time is 1.53pm here in London, UK.

Wilmbledon fever is in full throttle in London, and as we all go ga-ga over Federer (and Murray, if you're British) I'm once again reminded of the genius of the Williams sisters, and the extent to which they are often overlooked.

Serena has 20 Grand Slam titles and 2 Olympic gold medals, Venus 17 Grand Slam titles and 3 Olympic gold medals. Serena is the reigning champion in the Australian and US Opens, Venus the reigning Wimbledon champion.

They are fearsome competitors, high-achievers off the court (Venus has an honours degree and is CEO of her own successful interior design business!), charitable (Serena helped fund the construction of a secondary school in Kenya!), and - perhaps most impressively for me - constantly speak out against inequity and stupidity on the tennis circuit.

This fearless pursuit of what they believe to be right is best illustrated by Venus having spear-headed the final movement which gained equal prize money for women in the Grand Slams that had doggedly persisted in discriminating against female players (Wimbledon and the French Open). In this wonderful manifesto she argued the case for equality and won.

Here are a couple of extracts:

I’m disappointed not for myself but for all of my fellow women players who have struggled so hard to get here and who, just like the men, give their all on the courts of SW19. I’m disappointed for the great legends of the game, such as Billie Jean King, Martina Navratilova and Chris Evert, who have never stopped fighting for equality. And disappointed that the home of tennis is sending a message to women across the world that we are inferior.

I believe that athletes — especially female athletes in the world’s leading sport for women — should serve as role models. The message I like to convey to women and girls across the globe is that there is no glass ceiling. My fear is that Wimbledon is loudly and clearly sending the opposite message: 128 men and 128 women compete in the singles main draw at Wimbledon; the All England Club is saying that the accomplishments of the 128 women are worth less than those of the 128 men. It diminishes the stature and credibility of such a great event in the eyes of all women.

I am constantly being reminded how important female athletes are as role models in this culture of page three girls and reality tv, and hope that the Williams Sisters continue to dominate and to speak out for many years to come.

One thought on “A salute to the Williams Sisters”

  1. I know this might sound terribly lame in comparison, but I recently read an article where they discussed all this hoop-lah over women making "grunting" noises when playing, and the writer pointed out that no complaints are ever made about the noise men make on the court (most notably, Lleyton 'Women are not as good as men' Hewitt and his obnoxious "COME ON"). I swear, everytime that jackass yells that - especially when it's after his opponent makes an error - I just want to go down to the court and knock him across the head with his tennis racquet

    I know that was off topic, but what are you gonna do?