Thursday, July 12, 2012

The Stark Economic Reality Facing African Americans Today and the Imperative Political and Social Need To Confront It Honestly

"Bobby Kennedy recently made me the soul-stirring promise that one day — thirty years if I'm lucky — I can be President too. It never entered this boy's mind, I suppose — it has not entered the country's mind yet — that perhaps I wouldn't want to be.… what really exercises my mind is not this hypothetical day on which some other Negro 'first' will become the first Negro president. What I am really curious about is just what kind of country will he be president of? "

--James Baldwin, 1961


While far too many of us inexplicably continue to childishly indulge the now obviously empty and largely meaningless fantasy of "finally having a black man in the White House" the great majority of the national African American population is being absolutely ravaged and systematically destroyed by the ruthless institutional/structural racism, insidious public policy, and comprehensive exploitation of banks, corporations, Wall Street, and the Republican/Tea Party rightwing in Congress (aided and abetted of course by the passive complicity and/or cowardly political ineptitude of the Democrats in the House and Senate). As we persist in politically avoiding and evading the real important problems, challenges, obstacles, and questions facing African American citizens generally in this ongoing devastating economic and financial crisis, black national unemployment rates continue to rise to levels not seen since Ronald Reagan's first term in 1982 and before that in the late 1950s (!) under Dwight Eisenhower as our collective wealth disappears and we are left in a severely crippling credit and debt squeeze that we haven't experienced as a People since the Great Depression of the 1930s(!). To say that the last two generations going back to those of us born since 1940 (and the present generation that is now emerging out of high school as we speak) are truly suffering major economic, political, and cultural crises and setbacks that are tearing us apart is at this late date a colossal understatement. I hate to say it folks but as this chilling article clearly spells out in very ugly detail IT'S WORSE THAN THAT...So what's the solution? Well, first of all there has to be a massive across the board acknowledgment nationally that the crisis is actually far worse and systematically destructive than many if not most of us have been willing to admit or confront. And until we get our heads out of the clouds about exactly who and what this President and his administration actually is and isn't, what he really "stands for" and doesn't, and MOST IMPORTANTLY is willing to FIGHT FOR (with our collective political, moral, and ideological DEMANDS relentlessly pushing the President, Congress, and the corporate plutocrats and oligarchs who are currently raping and pillaging the economy and civil society alike, then all is indeed LOST no matter who is elected to the White House in November. This doesn't mean of course that I think even for a nanosecond that we can possibly afford under ANY circumstances whatsoever that Mitt Romney become President (my head explodes just thinking about it). BUT IT ALSO MEANS that neither can we afford President Obama's administration to simply ignore, use, and take us for granted in the asinine, indifferent, and opportunist way he and the Democratic Party have since 2009.

So as always the stakes of our lives are much bigger than what happens in any election and IF we re-elect Obama we have to fiercely insist that he be and do much, much more than simply exist and take up space as "the first black president." And for those of us who think we can simply "do it all by ourselves" without seriously confronting and holding the major political, economic, and social institutions fully accountable to us no matter what STOP DREAMING AND WAKE UP...Delusions--not even "pretty" ones-- can't possibly save us now or any other time...


For black Americans, financial damage from subprime implosion is likely to last

By Ylan Q. Mui
July 8, 2012
Washington Post

The implosion of the subprime lending market has left a scar on the finances of black Americans — one that not only has wiped out a generation of economic progress but could leave them at a financial disadvantage for decades.

At issue are the largely invisible but profoundly influential three-digit credit scores that help determine who can buy a car, finance a college education or own a home. The scores are based on consumers’ financial history and suffer when they fall behind on their bills.

For blacks, the picture since the recession has been particularly grim. They disproportionately held subprime mortgages during the housing boom and are facing foreclosure in outsize numbers. That is raising fears among consumer advocates, academics and federal regulators that the credit scores of black Americans have been systematically damaged, haunting their financial futures.

The private companies that calculate credit scores say they do not consider race in their formulas. Lenders also say it is not a factor when deciding who qualifies for a loan; federal laws prohibit the practice. Still, studies have shown a persistent gap between the credit scores of white and black Americans, and many worry that it is only getting wider.

Chicago resident Ida Mae Whitley, 62, used to have stellar credit.

That was before the African American laid eyes on her dream home in Chicago’s Scottsdale neighborhood, where she and her husband hoped to retire — before she said she was steered into a mortgage with more fees and a higher interest rate, putting her in danger of losing her home.

Now, Whitley said, her credit score has tanked, along with her hopes for a comfortable retirement. She can’t even get approved for an auto loan. Her daughter had to delay her education to help support her parents.

“I had number-one credit before this happened,” Whitley said. “I don’t know whether I’ll ever be able to rebuild.”

Groups such as the NAACP and the National Urban League worry that stories such as Whitley’s are signs that the nation’s financial crisis has ushered in a new era of de facto economic segregation. Some community leaders are calling the rebuilding of wealth in black communities the next frontier for civil rights.

“Folks are going to have to work longer and work harder to even try to maintain a standard of living,” said Kendrick Curry, pastor at Pennsylvania Avenue Baptist Church in the District. “It really speaks to a backward movement.”

Credit scores

The Federal Reserve is collecting data on how the recession has affected credit scores by race, in what is expected to be significant research on the issue. But the widespread belief among economists, consumer advocates and community leaders is that black Americans are falling behind.

Credit scores summarize consumers’ financial past and help project their future behavior. A critical factor in deciding who qualifies for a loan, they are designed to give lenders a quick way to assess the risk of a customer. FICO and VantageScore are the two primary companies that generate the scores.

For most people, credit is the key to accessing the trappings of the American Dream, such as higher education and homeownership. That makes the scores, and the detailed personal financial reports that accompany them, one of the most important factors in determining financial opportunity.

And for black Americans, that means they are starting at a disadvantage. Even near the height of the country’s economic boom, blacks had lower credit scores than whites. Data collected by the Federal Reserve from 2003 — in the most comprehensive study on race and credit scoring to date — showed that less than a quarter of blacks had prime credit scores. Meanwhile, about 65 percent of whites were in this top tier.

The gap got wider as black and white Americans grew older, the Fed found. By age 75, the average black consumer’s credit score still had not reached the national average.

“It’s one more way that credit scoring . . . sort of sets in stone income and wealth disparities between minorities and whites,” said Chi Chi Wu, a lawyer with the National Consumer Law Center. “The playing field was never level.”

Banks and industry groups often cited low credit scores as one of the main reasons black consumers were denied loans at higher rates than whites. According to the 2000 Census, less than half of black households owned their homes, compared with nearly three-quarters of whites. Consumer advocates said the lack of credit in black neighborhoods was so pervasive it is dubbed “redlining.”

The housing boom helped change that. New financial instruments created by Wall Street helped generate enormous pools of money for mortgage lenders to distribute — and blacks were one of the largest untapped markets. Riskier borrowers with lower credit scores qualified for mortgages, albeit with higher interest rates and fees or unconventional terms.

At first, the shift was heralded as a way to help boost homeownership in black neighborhoods. The move also dovetailed with federal initiatives to promote fair lending. And the financial industry uncorked a lucrative new market that created jobs and drove the economy.

“There was a loan for almost anybody who wanted a loan. It was just priced differently based on credit,” Andrew Sandler, a lawyer for Wells Fargo, said of the industry at the time.

But the movement backfired. Borrowers with the new breed of subprime loans defaulted at alarming rates, sending the economy into a tailspin. Many of those mortgages were made using false information or shoddy underwriting. Instead of helping black communities build wealth, the lending boom destroyed it.

A Pew Research Center analysis last year found that the wealth of blacks plunged 53 percent during the recession, driven by falling home prices. The average net worth of a black household in 2009 was $5,677, according to the study, the lowest of any racial group. After years of record prosperity, homeownership rates among black Americans have plunged to the lowest level in 16 years. Unemployment has reached levels not seen since the 1980s.

Baltimore resident Kevin Matthews has worked hard to stabilize his finances after fighting off a wrongful foreclosure that drained his savings. He is paying his bills and studying to become a medical lab tech or researcher, but in the eyes of banks and lenders he is largely a three-digit number: 560.

That is Matthews’s credit score. It is 160 points lower than it was five years ago. That means it will cost him more to get credit cards, pay for his education or eventually move into another house — assuming he can qualify for a loan. It means Matthews faces years of struggling to hold on to the middle-class life he once thought was guaranteed.

According to FICO, a foreclosure can remain on a consumer’s credit report for seven years. It can lower a score by 85 to 160 points, a hit second only to bankruptcy.

The company says that its scores are a snapshot of risk at a moment in time — one that will change as consumers rebuild their finances. FICO said borrowers can rebuild their scores in as little as two years if they remain current on their other bills.

But for many, foreclosure is only the beginning of their financial woes. “Everybody’s worried about their credit score,” Matthews said. “But, unfortunately, I can only worry about one thing at a time right now.”

The black middle class

Civil rights groups say those personal anecdotes underscore a more fundamental fear: that the country is headed toward a kind of financial segregation.

During the recession, credit scores shifted downward for many consumers, regardless of race. According to a FICO analysis , nearly 50 million people saw their scores fall by more than 20 points during the height of the financial crisis. Lenders also tightened the spigot of credit, with the total volume of loans to consumers falling 9 percent over 2009, according to government data, though lending has rebounded somewhat.

Research by VantageScore found that the two biggest contributors to consumers’ deteriorating credit were the fall of home prices and unemployment. Activists say the demographic that has borne the brunt of those head winds are black Americans.

Groups such as the NAACP and the National Urban League say the black middle class is shrinking as a result. Lisa Rice, vice president of the National Fair Housing Alliance, says the country suffers from what she has dubbed the “dual credit market.” Longtime civil rights attorney John Relman, who has won millions of dollars from companies such as Avis and Denny’s in discrimination lawsuits, has set his sights on the banks.

“Race and economic injustice always go together in this country,” Relman said.

A month ago, the Justice Department reached a $21 million settlement with SunTrust over what it called a “racial surtax” on home loans. For instance, it said black borrowers in Atlanta were charged $745 more in fees than white borrowers with similar credit histories and qualifications.

“SunTrust’s African American and Latino borrowers had no idea they could have gotten a better deal, no idea that white borrowers with similar credit would pay less,” Assistant Attorney General Thomas Perez said. “That is discrimination with a smile.”

The Justice Department also reached a $335 million settlement with Bank of America over similar charges last year and is investigating Wells Fargo. The banks have denied wrongdoing.

But some civil rights leaders say the settlements are dwarfed by the long-lasting damage done to the black community.

“We’re talking about a 20-year financial recovery for some families,” said the Rev. Anthony Evans, head of the National Black Church Initiative, who has called for bank boycotts. “I think it’s very clear that we will call this the downgrading of the black middle class.”

Ida Mae Whitley, the Chicago resident, was supposed to have her credit restored and her loan modified after she sued her mortgage company in 2008.

The complaint alleged that the price of the home she purchased was artificially inflated by an appraiser who was working in tandem with her mortgage broker. It says the mortgage broker falsified her income to qualify her for the loan, including listing Whitley as a white mechanic making $81,600 a year. Instead, she is a black and earned $34,000 annually as a garage attendant.

And though her credit score of 696 probably would have qualified her for a prime mortgage, Whitley instead received a high-interest loan that she quickly learned she could not afford.

When the lender tried to foreclose, Whitley took the company to court. Eventually, she negotiated a settlement that would have repaired her financial history and ended the nightmare.

But three weeks later, the company filed for bankruptcy. Her credit score is now in the 500s.

“They trusted the real estate broker. They trusted the lender. They were leaning on them for information and education, and then they got completely taken advantage of,” said housing advocate Al Hofeld Jr., Whitley’s attorney. “It makes it really difficult for them to be made whole.”

The fallout from the housing crisis can ripple across a community. Many landlords require credit checks from tenants, which consumer advocates say makes it tough for those who have lost their homes to find rentals in their existing neighborhoods. In addition, foreclosures can dry up the wealth of entire communities by depressing home values.

“Anybody who lived in a neighborhood where a lot of people had them were similarly going to be adversely affected,” said Ira Goldstein, director of policy solutions for the Reinvestment Fund in Philadelphia.

And some consequences are harder to pinpoint. They don’t show up in housing data or economic research, but their toll is still keenly felt.

Kenna Whitley has been helping her parents pay their bills as they fight foreclosure, raiding her own retirement savings and delaying plans to return to school for her teacher’s certification. Her son also dropped out of college to work after money for tuition dried up.

“I don’t really think there is such a thing as catching up,” she said.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Serena and Venus Williams Dominate Wimbledon 2012 and Remind the World Once Again Of Their Greatness


My two favorite athletes in all of sports just happen to be two extraordinary African American women who happen to play tennis. They also happen to be two of the most dominant, iconic, and accomplished athletes in the 21st century. Since Venus and Serena Williams formally entered the virtually lily white world of tennis as professionals in 1997 and 1998 respectively they have been nothing short of spectacular in the riveting excellence and breathtaking quality of their play and have dramatically revolutionized their sport through a highly dynamic combination of speed, power, great technical skill, strategic acumen, steely self discipline, and a ferocious will to win. These qualities fused with two distinct and utterly mesmerizing personalities, and a genuine charisma that endears them to their many fans and supporters throughout the world (including this writer) have resulted in an astonishing record of ground breaking achievements that puts them head and shoulders among all of their many contemporaries in their global sport.

So it was not surprising at all that 15 years after their debuts both Serena and Venus continue to scale heights in the tennis world that would have been simply unthinkable when they arrived on the scene in the late 1990s. In both singles and doubles play as both individuals and as highly respected and even feared partners on the court, the Williams sisters have literally created and led a new revolutionary era in the history of tennis and have inspired thousands of people throughout the United States and the rest of the world by their sterling examples as women and athletes both on and off the court.

Thus the scintillating triumph of the sisters yesterday in this year's Wimbledon grand slam tournament of the past two weeks in London, England in both singles and doubles competition is clearcut evidence once again that when it comes to not only great athletic prowess but as an ongoing, inspiring, and lasting impact on our culture Venus and Serena Williams remain a very powerful and elegant example of what real excellence in sports and life is and means. CONGRATULATIONS SISTERS!


Williams Wins 5th Wimbledon Title
July 7, 2012
New York Times

WIMBLEDON, England — For Serena Williams, the tears came slowly, a release of all the emotions that had accumulated over the last two weeks, the last two months, the last two years.

There was the euphoria of winning her fifth singles title at Wimbledon, tying her older sister Venus, and her 14th in a Grand Slam tournament. The satisfaction of purging a shocking French Open implosion and the aura of vulnerability that followed. The relief that comes with reviving a career on the brink, from cheating death, from outlasting a patient and persistent adversary who on Saturday threatened with a comeback nearly as stirring as Williams’s.

When it was over, when her crisp backhand found open court, Williams fell backward onto the lawn. She stayed there for a few seconds, a grass angel basking in a 6-1, 5-7, 6-2 victory over Agnieszka Radwanska, before climbing through the crowd to meet her entourage in its box. Her appreciation of these moments is greater than it was 13 years ago, when at age 17 she announced her presence at the 1999 United States Open. There is an element of selflessness, of humility, that comes, perhaps, with age and maturity. Now 30, Williams is the first woman in her 30s to capture a Grand Slam since Martina Navratilova won Wimbledon in 1990 at age 33.

“Oh my God, I can’t even describe it,” Williams said during an on-court interview after she turned back Radwanska on a blustery and chilly Centre Court.

When she took to Twitter an hour later, Williams was nearly speechless still: Yeaa, she wrote, with 40 more a’s tacked on. When she appeared an hour after that in the interview room, Williams said that winning had yet to sink in; usually, she said, it does immediately. But it certainly appeared to while she answered a question about her motivation to win the women’s doubles final with Venus, as they did Saturday night.

“I don’t feel any pressure because, I mean, regardless, I won Wimbledon,” Williams said, placing her head on the podium as she unleashed a lengthy, high-pitched cackle.

Since the last time she won Wimbledon, in 2010, Williams has endured two foot operations, caused by a misstep on broken glass; emergency treatment for blood clots in her lungs; an 11-month hiatus from the tour; a demoralizing loss in the 2011 United States Open final; torn ligaments in an Australian Open warm-up tournament; and an outstanding clay-court season that came to a sudden and stunning end with a first-round defeat at the French Open, her earliest exit from a Grand Slam tournament.

Williams wanted to expunge the memory of her loss in Paris. She tried. She could not, at least for a while. Naturally negative is how Williams describes her temperament, a personality trait at odds with the confident, powerful persona she projects on the court.

The loss spilled over into Wimbledon, into sluggish three-set victories against Zheng Jie and Yaroslava Shvedova. Was she headed for another disappointment? Did she have enough mental toughness to advance? Her father and coach, Richard Williams, said she was lucky to have reached the quarterfinals.

“I think Serena feels the pressure; she doesn’t have time on her side,” said Chris Evert, an 18-time Grand Slam singles champion, in a recent interview. “And she wants to take advantage of these opportunities.”

Williams dominated the first set Saturday, winning the first five games as she matched Radwanska on extended baseline rallies, drilling sharp-angled forehands and cross-court backhands, even mixing in the odd drop shot. But when Radwanska, who was dealing with an upper respiratory illness, came back after a short rain delay and showed her mettle in the second set, overcoming a 4-2 deficit, Williams grew anxious, and it was natural to think back to her implosion in Paris, where she first blew a 5-1 lead in the second-set tiebreaker against Virginie Razzano, and then lost the match.

One does not survive a pulmonary embolism without some serious staying power. Winning her first service game of the third set stabilized Williams. Four straight aces at 1-2 emboldened her. A nifty drop shot to break Radwanska at 2-4 empowered her.

“After that,” said Williams, “it was, ‘I can definitely do this.’ ”

It was a disappointing result for Radwanska, seeking to become Poland’s first Grand Slam champion, but her presence in the final solidified her standing as a contender. It also proved that a crafty and creative tactician could handle and counter power and pace — at least for a time.

Williams became the seventh woman in the past seven Grand Slams to win the championship. The field is ever deeper. A revived Maria Sharapova. Angelique Kerber. Petra Kvitova. Victoria Azarenka, who will rise to No. 1 when the rankings are released Monday. Radwanska, who will climb to No. 2. But during these two weeks, none of the last three women could contain Williams.

Williams’s decision to remain in France to work with Patrick Mouratoglou, who owns and operates a tennis academy outside Paris, could be seen as a sign of maturity as well as desperation, a willingness to listen to another voice when for so many years she has stayed loyal to her clan. Those sessions recharged her psyche as much as her body, which absorbed a punishing workload at Wimbledon — a challenging slate of singles matches, in addition to a title run in doubles — without incident.

“I don’t see why not,” Williams said when asked if she could surpass Steffi Graf (22), Navratilova (18) and Evert on the Grand Slam singles title list.

For all the speculation that Williams had passed her prime, it is possible that this championship marks the beginning of a new phase, a return to prominence instead of a culmination. And in that new phase, Williams has assumed more of a supportive role in her relationship with Venus, who is battling an autoimmune disorder.

“I don’t know what I would have if Venus didn’t exist,” Williams said. “I don’t even know if I would own a Grand Slam title or if I would play tennis, because we do everything together.”

Ten of the last 13 Wimbledon singles titles belong to them. Five Wimbledon doubles championships, including their triumph Saturday. More euphoria. More satisfaction. More relief. Another trophy hoisted.

Saturday, July 7, 2012
Serena wins 5th Wimbledon title
Associated Press

WIMBLEDON, England -- For Serena Williams, the low point came in early 2011, when she spent hours laying around her home, overwhelmed by a depressing series of health scares that sent her to the hospital repeatedly and kept her away from tennis for 10 months.

The high point came Saturday on Centre Court at Wimbledon, when Williams dropped down to the grass, hands covering her face. She was all the way back, a Grand Slam champion yet again.

Her serve as good as there is, her grit as good as ever, Williams was dominant at the start and finish, beating Agnieszka Radwanska of Poland 6-1, 5-7, 6-2 to win a fifth championship at the All England Club and 14th major title overall, ending a two-year drought.

After wallowing in her French Open foibles, Serena Williams decided it was time to win. And that's what she did, writes Greg Garber. Story

Serena Williams has fought through injury and illness to return to the winner's circle at Wimbledon. For those who don't think she cares enough about tennis, her emotional response to the win says it all, writes espn's Sandra Harwitt. Story

"I just remember, I was on the couch and I didn't leave the whole day, for two days. I was just over it. I was praying, like, 'I can't take any more. I've endured enough. Let me be able to get through this,'" said Williams, a former No. 1 whose ranking slid to 175th after a fourth-round loss at the All England Club last year, her second tournament back.

"Coming here and winning today is amazing," she said. "It's been an unbelievable journey for me."

Certainly has.

That's why tears flowed during the on-court trophy ceremony. And why Williams squeezed tight during post-victory hugs with her parents and older sister Venus, who has five Wimbledon titles of her own -- meaning that one pair of siblings that learned to play tennis on public courts in Compton, Calif., now accounts for 10 of the past 13 trophies.

They added their fifth Wimbledon doubles championship Saturday night, teaming to beat Andrea Hlavackova and Lucie Hradecka of the Czech Republic 7-5, 6-4.

"She hasn't had an easy road. Things have happened in her life that you can't predict or control, so it's hard to be in that situation. Things happen that you didn't deserve," said Venus, who is dealing with an autoimmune disease that can cause fatigue. "For her to fight through that and come back and be a champion. ... It was definitely emotional."

A few days after winning Wimbledon for the fourth time in 2010, Serena Williams cut both feet on broken glass while leaving a restaurant in Germany. She needed two operations on her right foot. Then she got blood clots in her lungs, for which she needed to inject herself with a blood thinner. Those shots led to a pool of blood gathering under her stomach's skin, requiring another procedure.

"That made her realize where her life was, really, and where she really belonged and that she really loved the game," said Williams' mother, Oracene Price. "You never appreciate anything until you almost lose it."

Serena Williams tied sister Venus with her fifth Wimbledon title Saturday, while hitting a tournament-record 102 aces.
Against Radwanska, who was trying to be the first Polish Grand Slam singles champion, Williams was streaky at times, but also superb. She won the first five games and the last five. She compiled a 58-13 landslide of winners. She swatted 17 aces, including four at 114 mph, 107 mph, 115 mph, 111 mph in one marvelous game to pull even at 2-all in the third set. That was part of a momentum-swinging run when Williams claimed 15 of 18 points, and that quartet of aces raised her total for the fortnight to a tournament-record 102, surpassing her own mark of 89 in 2010; it's also more than the top number for any man this year at Wimbledon.

"So many aces," said Radwanska, whose two-week total was 16, "and I couldn't do much about it."

There had been a moment, ever so brief, when it appeared Williams might let Saturday's match slip away. After she breezed through the first set on a day when the wind whipped and the temperature was in the mid-50s, rain arrived, causing a delay of about 20 minutes between sets.

Radwanska, who's been fighting a respiratory illness and blew her nose at a changeover, quickly fell behind 3-1 in the second set. Right there is where she made a stand.

Williams was playing in her 18th major final; Radwanska in her first. Actually, she'd never won a match beyond the fourth round at a Grand Slam tournament until this week. So she acknowledged being "a little bit nervous in the beginning."

But the interruption let her "cool down a little bit," explained Radwanska, who would have risen to No. 1 in the rankings by beating Williams but instead will be No. 2 behind Victoria Azarenka. "When I was going on the court the second time, I just felt like a normal match. Didn't seem like a final anymore, so there was not that much pressure."

Radwanska played her usual steady game, and Williams began making more and more errors. A string of mistakes -- swinging volley into the net, double-fault, backhand long, backhand into the net -- let Radwanska break to even the match at one set apiece. What appeared to be a rather drab final, bereft of any drama, suddenly became interesting.

"She got a little nervous out there, in my opinion. In the second set, I think she might have thought, 'Well, I got this here,'" said Williams' father, Richard.He also suspected his daughter might have been feeling a twinge of self-doubt connected to her quick exit in late May at the French Open against a woman ranked 111th, Williams' only first-round loss in 48 career major tournaments.

Williams' explanation for her dip against Radwanska?
"I just got too anxious," she said, "and I shouldn't have been so anxious."

Probably not.

Making her Paris performance really seem like an aberration, Williams regained control down the stretch. She won a 16-stroke point with a forehand putaway to get to break point, then went up 3-2 by smacking a big return that left Radwanska flailing at a running backhand.

If Williams is mainly known for her powerful serves and groundstrokes -- she produced 23 baseline winners to her opponent's five -- she also showed off a deft touch, the sort of thing in which Radwanska specializes. Ahead 4-2, Williams earned a second break with a well-disguised forehand drop shot, then raised both arms aloft.

"After that, it was: 'I can definitely do this,'" Williams said.

While Monday's rankings will have her listed at No. 4, there's no doubt who is at the top of the game right now. Seeded sixth at the All England Club, Williams beat the women who were No. 2 (Azarenka), No. 3 (Radwanska) and No. 4 (defending champion Petra Kvitova).

At age 30, Williams is the oldest women's singles champion at any major tournament since Martina Navratilova was 33 when she won Wimbledon in 1990.

And Williams sees no end in sight.

Asked Saturday evening what more she could possibly want, she replied: "Are you kidding? The U.S. Open. The Australian Open. The French Open. Wimbledon, 2013."

Seconds later, she declared: "I have never felt better."

July 7, 2012
Williams Wins 5th Wimbledon Title

Serena Williams won her fifth Wimbledon and 14th Grand Slam title with a tricky 6-1, 5-7, 6-2 win Saturday over Agnieszka Radwanska on Centre Court.

Williams, who sustained a life-threatening pulmonary embolism in February 2011, fell on her back with emotion after match point, then ran up into her box to hug family and friends.

It is Williams’ first Grand Slam title since Wimbledon in 2010. The five Wimbledon titles equal her sister’s haul. Serena Williams also became the first woman over 30 to win a Grand Slam title since Martina Navratilova won Wimbledon in 1990, when she was 33.

Serena and Venus Williams win Wimbledon doubles title
July 7, 2012
By The Associated Press

About five hours after Williams won her fifth singles title by beating Agnieszka Radwanska, she and sister Venus were back on Centre Court to beat Czech duo Andrea Hlavackova and Lucie Hradecka 7-5, 6-4 Saturday in the doubles final.

It was their fifth Wimbledon doubles title together, and came shortly after Venus watched her little sister win the singles final.

"I was definitely inspired by Serena's singles performance," Venus said. "Obviously it's wonderful to play on the court with her. I couldn't have done it without her, so it's great." Both sisters have battled health issues over the last two years, with Venus having been diagnosed with an energy-sapping illness and Serena overcoming blood clots in her lungs and two operations after cutting her feet on glass in 2010.

This was their first doubles tournament together in two years, and they looked as if they hadn't missed a beat.

"She's such a fighter, you never say die," Venus said about her sister. "I don't think either of us believe that we can be defeated by anything. Nothing has defeated us yet, so we're going to keep that track record." Serena was the last woman to win both the singles and doubles titles at Wimbledon, in 2009.

Playing under the closed roof, Venus Williams served out the match less than 15 minutes before the 11 p.m. deadline for the end of play on Centre Court.

Had the match gone to a third set, they probably would have had to come back and finish it off on Sunday.

"I told Venus on the court, it doesn't matter," Serena said. "We weren't really racing the clock, we were just playing our opponents who were playing really tough and really good."

Serena and Venus Williams win 5th Wimbledon doubles title as the sisters show no signs of quitting

Making father Richard Williams proud, Serena and Venus have now combined for 10 of the last 13 Wimbledon titles and 21 majors overall.

JULY 8, 2012,

GLYN KIRK/AFP/GETTYIMAGES Serena Williams and sister Venus (r.) take another Wimbledon doubles title.

Serena (l.) and Venus Williams are still unbeatable when they play at Wimbledon.

WIMBLEDON — It’s an amusing thought: yet another Williams sibling to torment Wimbledon, to hoard the trophies, to defy the English fans at the All England Club who regularly root against this unconventional family.

But Richard Williams, who is expecting another child soon at age 70 with his third wife, Lakeisha, says he’s finished creating tennis stars.
“Never. It’s too much work, too much trouble for everyone,” Williams said. “I got lucky with those two.”

Those two daughters, Serena and Venus, have now combined for 10 of the last 13 Wimbledon titles and 21 majors overall. Once, they spoke about retiring at an early age, moving on with their lives to endeavors such as fashion design and acting. Now they can’t get enough tennis, playing into their 30s.

They were still at it late Saturday night, winning their fifth Wimbledon doubles title and 13th doubles title at a major. They hadn’t played doubles here for a couple of years because of injury and health problems, yet it was not a problem for them at all. They remain practically unbeatable at this event, because their searing serves elicit weak returns to be smashed immediately for volley winners. They defeated Andrea Hlavackova and Lucie Hradecka of the Czech Republic in the final, 7-5, 6-4, and beat the local curfew by a few minutes.

The sisters will be back again here soon enough for the Olympics, favored in the doubles. Serena will be the favorite to win another gold in the women’s singles, too. Then it will be on to Flushing for the Open.

“He wanted us to play for him, so in the beginning we played because he wanted us to,” Venus Williams said of her father. “But it became our dream.”

Venus is 32, and fighting Sjogren’s Disease. Serena is 30, recovering from a pulmonary embolism. They play now because they love it, yes, but they also play because it is their way of keeping the whole family together. Richard and Oracene don’t speak to each other anymore, but the parents are both in the players’ box to hug their daughters after victories. Relatives, friends and celebrities populate that crowded box. Centre Court is the family picnic, with Serena and Venus playing hostesses down below. The longer they play like this, the longer the sisters have reason to share the same lives.

Serena Williams is pumped winning the singles title.

“I wouldn’t be doing this without her,” Venus said of Serena, and Serena said the same thing about Venus earlier in the tournament.

Venus may never win another singles title. She hopes for the best, taking solace and inspiration from Serena’s own comeback story. Meanwhile, she can still carry her share of the load on a doubles court. Playing together is more enjoyable than playing against each other, or watching from the seats.

“It’s definitely more fun,” Serena said. “At the same time, the last thing I want to do is let Venus down. In singles, it’s OK if I let myself down. You put so much pressure on yourself.”

Venus has become as much Serena’s coach as a player. She was more jittery than her sister while she watched Serena survive a second-set lapse to beat Agnieszka Radwanska on Saturday for the title.

“It was definitely emotional,” Venus said. “I was so nervous, I felt like I was playing the match, too. I couldn’t. You never miss in the stands. But she was amazing.”

Serena was asked if she ever thought about playing a different sport, assuming her father would allow that. As a child watching the Olympics, she wanted to be a gymnast. Then she got too big and Venus grew too tall for such activities.
“We ended up in the right spot,” Serena said.

The Williamses, together again. A never-ending picnic.