“You kids quiet down!”
If you’re feeling wild, you’ve no doubt heard that, or PIPE DOWN, or KNOCK IT OFF, or something similar, for sure. You’re a kid, kids make noise, and in the new book “Who are Venus and Serena Williams?” by James Buckley Jr., you’ll read about two girls who were encouraged to make a lot of “racquet!”
Nearly 40 years ago, Richard Williams met Oracene Price, and they got married. Oracene had three daughters, Richard had six children, but there’s always room for more: in 1980, Venus Ebony Starr was born, followed by Serena Jameka a little more than a year later. The family lived in Michigan then; they moved to California when the girls were small.
It was there, in Compton, where Richard got a great idea.
He’d been watching tennis, and he knew his girls could become stars. His stepdaughters really weren’t interested, but four-year-old Venus absolutely loved smacking tennis balls over the net. Serena learned to love it a year later, and their father proceeded to teach his girls “everything he knew about tennis.”
Their lessons weren’t held in the best tennis court, though. The court surface was cracked and weeds were growing through it. The net was tattered and it was all located in a dangerous neighborhood. Still, it was where Venus and Serena could practice all they wanted and soon, even local gang members recognized the girls’ talent.
By age 11, Venus won 63 of her 72 matches in junior level; she went pro three years later. When Serena was 11 years old, she racked up wins in 46 of 49 matches in junior level; she turned pro at age 15. The adult tennis world took notice of the girls, and not just because they were African Americans in a mostly-white sport. Serena and Venus were mad talented, too!