The Triumph of the Williams Sisters

by Sheyi Oriade

If it is permissible to lay aside considerations of political correctness for a moment or at least for the length of this paragraph and call things as one sees them: then it is fair to say that at this years Wimbledon Tennis Championship – one would have been hard pressed to find many Caucasians who wished success upon the Williams sisters and by the same token it would have been equally difficult to isolate a single black person – in and beyond the confines of Wimbledon – who would have wished failure upon them. Such are the deeply entrenched racial rivalries and disharmonies which often characterise aspects of the relationship between these two ancient races of people. But thankfully in relatively recent times the coming together of representatives of these ancient races in harmonious conjunction has produced splendid outcomes in the arena of sports and politics. Long may it continue!

But back to the Williams sisters and to matters of political correctness. This year, once again, the Wimbledon Winners’ Board has engraved upon it the illustrious names of the Williams sisters. As ever, they were an absolute joy to behold. Venus, statuesque and athletic, moving about the tennis courts in lithe fashion with the ease of a free spirit, demolishing and dispatching her opponents with power and precision. Serena too was equally impressive, even if a tad heavy and a tad immobile, but more than a tad devastating and effective and ultimately triumphant.

It was no surprise to tennis realists that yet again the sisters prevailed in decisive fashion at the world’s oldest and most prestigious tennis championship. The prevalent question on the lips of naysayers, about the sisters over the years, has been – ‘how do we stop them’; a question to which a satisfactory is still being sought. The more sensible question ought to have been – ‘how do we replicate their prowess and greatness’. Now that is a question worthy of an answer, and one to which the Williams family themselves maybe willing to provide.

This year it was heavily rumoured in the British press that the Queen of England was going to grace Wimbledon’s Centre Court; on the presumption that the nation’s Andy Murray’s would be participating in the men’s singles finals. The first time a Briton would be doing so in seven decades. But it was to be a misplaced presumption as Andy Murray was to fall short at the semi-final stage of the competition. As so it happens that, neither the Queen nor Andy Murray will be gracing the finals. It would have been the Queen’s first visit to Wimbledon since her last visit in the 25th Year of her reign in 1977.

In some ways I think that the Queen’s advisers should, nonetheless, have encouraged her to attend not only the men’s finals, but also that of the ladies. She would have witnessed first hand the exploits of the two undisputed Queens of ladies tennis. And even her diary was not able to accommodate such an engagement, she should have at least persisted with her plans to watch the men’s final. For another royal – King Roger Federer – will be on display to show case his sublime skills and quite possibly make history in the process. It would have been a therapeutic outing for the aging monarch. But alas it is not to be.

The greatest revelation of the championship from the Williams camp, it turns out, was not the continued ascendance of the sisters, but the ‘official’ unveiling at Wimbledon of Richard Williams new fiancé – Lakeisha Graham – yet to be married, but already passionately wedded to the Venus and Serena success story. It was also nice to see, particularly, from a black perspective, that past and present spouses and partners could sit in peace and proximity to one another and cheer on in unison towards a common cause. Well done Lakeisha – its much better to be an old man’s darling, than a young man’s slave – or so I’m told.

Congratulations to the triumphant sisters: to Serena on winning the ladies singles title and to both of them on their joint ladies doubles triumph. For them it has been a great 4th of July – an independence day to remember.

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