Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Why We Must Fight and Defeat the False Media Narrative About the Reasons For Serena Williams Extraordinary Success As the Best Female Tennis Player in the World

(b. 1942)


With all due respect to Serena's current coach (see BBC article below) I must push back very hard against the incredible amount of outright false, distorted, and thoroughly dishonest misinformation that is currently being spread by the tennis media in charting Serena's (ongoing!) success on the court over the past year. I simply can't believe the barrage of straightup LIES and sheer propaganda that is being foisted on the public and how naive and clueless so many people in the general tennis community seem to be about Serena's ACTUAL phenomenal record of success that she has ALWAYS had--and long before she ever met Patrick Mouratoglou!  This is not to say that her  present coach is not a skilled professional or even that he doesn't have Serena's best interests at heart--in fact he alone is not even the real issue here--but come on now let's get real--HE IS NOT 'THE MAN' BEHIND HER SUCCESS as this headline arrogantly--and stupidly--proclaims. NOT EVEN CLOSE. In fact as I've stated before this absurdly transparent attempt on the part of the media and former white tennis players like Jim Courier (who really made some ridiculously egregious statements yesterday on Tennis Channel about how much Serena's current coach is responsible for her record over the past 12 months) is nothing more after all is said and done than a condescending and ultimately racist assertion by the media, some former players, and Serena's many former detractors in and out of the game who are now trying to pretend they are her "friends" since it's crystal clear she's on the brink of breaking nearly every major historical record left in women's tennis.

So it is in that major and most important context that I share the following astounding statistics about Serena's extraordinary career that she amassed LONG BEFORE she staried "working with" Mouratoglou in June 2012. What the following stats will reveal is that RICHARD AND ORACENE--AND ESPECIALLY RICHARD--are clearly and largely responsible for Serena's success since it was the self taught Mr. Wlliams who taught EVERYONE in the Williams family how to play tennis--as even Oracene openly and honestly admits!--and who first taught the sisters how to play at age 4 and 5. It wasn't until the sisters were 10 and 11 that Richard even sought out other coaches and settled on Rick Macci who proceeded--in collaboration with Richard--to coach Venus and Serena for the next four years whereupon Venus formally began her professional career at age 14 in 1994 and Serena followed three years later. And it's very significant to add that Richard, Oracene and the girls accomplished all this AFTER Venus compiled a 63-0 record (and Serena was 46-3) for girls in California who played tennis in the 12 and under division --which as it turned out were the ONLY junior level matches the two sisters ever played because Richard was wise and perceptive enough--he even said as much--not to burn out his two young phenoms too early. So in honor of the tremendous coaching job and guidance that Richard and Oracene provided for their two daughters I present the following FACTS as evidence that the real "man behind Serena's career" is indeed HER FATHER and not her current coach. I know this FACT really sticks in the craw of many people who simply don't like or respect Richard because of his overall "personality"--and to a LIMITED degree I can well understand why some of Richard's personal behavior can upset people. After all the man is far from perfect and obviously has his own personal faults and shortcomings but the truth of the matter is that in the final analysis Richard is no different from ANYONE ELSE in that respect. I mean NOBODY'S PERFECT and despite whatever problems some people may have with Richard, I for one WILL ALWAYS DEEPLY RESPECT, HONOR, AND SUPPORT what he has accomplished with his two daughters through a dynamic combination of LOVE, PATIENCE, DISCIPLINE, PERSEVERANCE, COURAGE, KNOWLEDGE, AND DETERMINATION--all sterling qualities and values which have IMO--and that of many others!--collectively made Serena THE BEST FEMALE PLAYER IN TENNIS HISTORY. What follows is the detailed empirical PROOF of exactly what Serena's two parents--and especially her father--have done as COACHES in shaping and providing real leadership in the formation, expansion, and growth of Serena's amazing career. The FACT that in the past 10 years Venus and Serena between them have won 23 of the 24 Grand Slam titles that ALL AMERICAN TENNIS PLAYERS COMBINED HAVE WON--AND THAT INCLUDES BOTH MEN AND WOMEN is not only a profound tribute to the astonishing GENIUS, savvy, innovation, and genuine INSIGHT that Richard Williams has brought to the game via his daughters but is an INDICTMENT of the nearly ALL WHITE USTA who despite having many sponsored programs and coaches throughout the country as well as MILLIONS OF DOLLARS in their well endowed budgets have utterly FAILED to accomplish anywhere near the gigantic success of ONE BLACK MAN AND ONE BLACK WOMAN over the past 15 years. Just THINK about those incredible FACTS for a moment. No matter what others falsely claim Serena's current coach is not even remotely close to matching what Richard and Oracene have done. My point is this: For once let's give the proper credit to black people for a change--they've earned it!-- and stop pretending that the "real narrative describing or acknowledging an African American's major success lies elsewhere--because the reality is that it doesn't...For the record then consider the following FACTS about Serena's unprecedented career and the obvious role her parents have played in it:

--Serena won four straight GS titles in just one seven month period from June 2002 to January 2003 which she herself dubbed the "Serena Slam." (she won again five months later at Wimbledon in June 2003)--and all finals were against Venus. The four straight Grand Slam finals they played from June of 2002 to January 2003 were the only time in tennis history that the same two people played against each other in four straight GS finals
--Serena was 94-8 in 2002 and 2003 winning 12 titles and was runnerup in four other tournaments

--Serena had already won Grand Slam titles on all four surfaces by the time she was 21 from 1999-2002

--Serena and Venus won 12 straight Grand slam doubles titles from 1998-2010; Serena also won two gold medals in doubles in the Olympic Games in 2000 and 2008 with Venus

--Serena was the Number One ranked player in the world five different times from 2002 to 2011

--Serena won six Grand Slam singles titles from 1998-2003 and she won seven more from 2005-2010 before she was out most of 2011 with injuries--so much for the completely phony and absolutely false argument that Serena hasn't really been "consistent" throughout her career!

--15 different players other than Serena have been ranked Number One in the WTA at some time or another since Serena began playing professionally in 1998 and Serena is the ONLY PLAYER in the last 15 years who has a WINNING RECORD against EVERY SINGLE ONE OF THEM--an extraordinary record that she established LONG BEFORE she ever met her current coach



Wimbledon 2013: 
The man behind Serena Williams's success
By Simon Austin BBC Sport 
June 24, 2013
When Patrick Mouratoglou's dream of becoming a top tennis player was blocked by his businessman father, he vowed to scale the heights as a coach instead.

The last 12 months have seen him realise that ambition spectacularly.

Mouratoglou, 43, started working with Serena Williams last June, just days after she had suffered a humiliating defeat to Virginie Razzano, ranked 111, in the first round of the French Open.

Since then, the American has embarked on one of the most remarkable runs in the entire history of women's tennis, which Mouratoglou himself encapsulated on Facebook on 10 June.

"Anniversary of one year of collaboration with Serena," he wrote. "Three Grand Slam titles, two Olympic Gold medals (single and doubles), winner of the Masters Cup, 11 titles, back to number one in the world, oldest number one in the history of the game, 74 matches won out of 77, 31-match winning streak and still counting. Serena is just unique."

The collaboration has seen Mouratoglou, little-known outside tennis circles a year ago, become the subject of front-page stories because of speculation about a romantic relationship with Williams.

Williams' record with Mouratoglou:

Won 74 of 77 matches
Lost only two of 28 matches v top-10 opponents
Won Wimbledon, Olympics, US Open, Masters Cup and French Open
Won 31 matches in a row
Just two short of Martina Navratilova/ Chris Evert's record of 18 Grand Slam titles
Regained world number one ranking and oldest number one in history of women's game

He says Williams has improved several facets of her game in the last 12 months. "Firstly, I think she moves better on the court, which is so important.

"And she is more consistent, meaning her low level is now much higher than it used to be. She doesn't have to rely only on her champion's mentality to come through a match on a bad day."

Williams, now 31, is also competing in more tournaments and many observers have spoken about a happier, friendlier and more motivated athlete.

One of them is former world number one Tracy Austin, who told BBC Sport: "In the past, it seemed like Serena could get bored, as it all came so easily to her. It seems Patrick has made it interesting.

"To wake up every day and feel challenged, and like you have something to improve on and get better on, is phenomenal for an athlete .

"When you have someone in your corner who is not only a great coach but also a great motivator, it's special. Serena has also spoken about the fact she'll look up now and see Patrick in her box and he'll never change his expression, which is so different from her father, who always seemed to be in a different seat and would leave in the middle of matches. Patrick seems to me to be a real stabilising force for her.

"Serena seems in a really good place right now. She's settled, hungry, fit, healthy and confident, which is not a bad combination."

Mouratoglou has reignited Williams' passion for tennis, says former world number one Tracy Austin

Mouratoglou agrees that Williams has less "ups and downs" than she used to.

"You have to remember that tennis players are human beings," he said. "They cannot keep motivated at their best throughout the whole of their careers. But you have to say this - even when Serena was having those downs, she was still winning Grand Slam titles, which is incredible. She really is amazing.

"Serena had already won 13 Grand Slams when we started working together, but had the will to go on, to keep practicing hard, to keep looking for ways to improve. That requires a special frame of mind, the mindset of a very special champion."



Why doesn't Serena Williams get the credit she deserves?

IF you want to spark a reaction on Twitter, just say something complimentary about Serena Williams.

"I can't stand the sight of her - she's the person who ruined women's tennis," was one of the more printable responses to a comment I posted last Thursday evening suggesting that Williams had not received enough praise for a staggering demolition of Sara Errani in the semi-final of the French Open that saw her lose just a solitary game.

Two days later, and Williams was defeating Maria Sharapova in straight sets to claim a 16th grand slam title. Did that lead to an outpouring of superlatives? Not exactly.

Most of the public acclaim appeared grudging at best, while the media response to Williams' 43rd victory from 45 matches this season was muted in comparison to the deluge of column inches that accompanied Rafael Nadal's victory over David Ferrer a day later.

In part, that reflects the extent to which women's tennis is still seen as something of a poor relation compared to the version of the game that is played by men, but it isn't always like this and it is hard to avoid the conclusion that something specific is involved when it comes to Williams.

It is equally hard to avoid the conclusion that that 'something specific' is related to issues of race and femininity, thorny subjects undoubtedly, but ones that cannot be ignored when one of the greatest sportswomen of our era is being denied the credit she deserves.

What is it about Williams we either dislike or distrust? The most common criticism hurled in her direction is that her playing style is predicated solely on power, and that her naturally muscular physique somehow gives her an unfair advantage over her opponents.

This is a desperately flawed argument for a number of reasons. For a start, you don't become the best player in the world simply because of an ability to hit the ball hard.

Yes, Williams' preferred playing style owes much to the strength of her shots, particularly when it comes to her serve, which is significantly superior to that of most other female players.

But her athleticism, precision and ability to consistently keep hitting the lines under the most intense of pressure mark her out as a supreme technician.

Particularly on the forehand, she can mix things up much more than she gets credit for, but even if her game was solely about strength, it's not as if such an approach is against the rule book.

So much of Nadal's play revolves around his repeatedly heavy hitting from the back of the court, his metronomic consistency and the competitive instinct that enables him to keep balls alive that other players would give up on.

In Nadal, that is a ferocious will to win. In Williams, it is somehow regarded as unsportsmanlike.

Is the distinction because Williams is black? It must surely play a part for some people on some level, yet it would be wrong to claim that society, particularly in this country and the United States, is completely uncomfortable with the idea of a physically powerful black champion.

On the football field, the likes of Patrick Vieira and Yaya Toure were lauded for their physical attributes. Americans are used to black footballers and basketballers using their size and strength to their advantage. Nobody seems to complain about the way Usain Bolt towers over his rivals in the 100m.

Yet the common denominator in all of these situations is that the athlete in question is a man. Try to think of examples of powerful black females - and the word 'powerful' here can have both physical and emotional connotations - and it quickly becomes apparent that Williams is blazing something of a trail.

The leading female sprinters are perhaps comparable, but none have dominated their sport in the way Williams has over the last decade-and-a-half, and so none have been subjected to the same sniping and judgement. The same can be said of Nicola Adams, another black sportswoman who has achieved success in a sphere where strength is all-important.

In many ways, Williams is a new type of champion, challenging conventions of what is deemed desirable in a sport that has strong, pre-conceived notions of what a women's number one should look like, and how she should perform and conduct herself on the court.

Williams' behaviour is often held up as another defect, and there have been times when she has strayed beyond the boundaries of acceptability, most notably when she threatened a lineswoman during the final of the 2009 US Open.

Again though, different things seem to be demanded of Williams than of other players. Roger Federer is no stranger to swearing on court, and can be churlish and argumentative in his press dealings, yet he is held up as the ideal sporting gentleman. John McEnroe's entire persona was built around his combativeness and fiery personality.

Williams isn't allowed to be like that, even though she would only be half the player she is if she didn't have an unquenchable need to succeed.

That competitiveness has enabled her to tower over her rivals, another stick that is used to beat her down. "It's an extremely weak time for women's tennis," is the cry, evoking a previous halcyon era, but conveniently forgetting that that halcyon era never really existed.

Steffi Graf, one of Williams' rivals for the title of the greatest of all time, once won a French Open final 6-0, 6-0, yet you don't find many people saying she had it easy.

Williams has overcome multiple obstacles to reach the pinnacle of the game, and continues to tackle adversity at every turn.

In 2011, she almost died after suffering a pulmonary embolism, yet within little more than a year, she was beating Agnieszka Radwanska at Wimbledon to claim her fifth All England title.

Later this month, she will return to SW19 at Wimbledon in an attempt to defend her crown. Perhaps in years to come, we will fully appreciate how privileged we are to be able to witness her achievements.