Friday, March 11, 2016

Family reunion

If you haven't read Venus Williams' essay about why she's taking the court today at Indian Wells for the first time in 15 years, do it.

You done? OK, let's talk.
There's actually not much more to say. She says it pretty well, doesn't she? What she gives right now to the Indian Wells debacle is perspective. Even I, at some point, have at least thought to myself: "Oh, come on. Get over it already."
But Venus was 20 years old when grown-ass adults began yelling at her in the stands, watching her sister's match. Serena's on the court, winning the tournament, hearing the same thing, at 19 years old.
The average person might not have recovered from that incident at that age by having a successful career. Folks have wilted under a lot less than that. But somehow, it would appear that the both of them managed to use this incident to make them stronger. And now, having processed through that day to now release that hurt and rejection to come back to the same tournament?
For years, the likes of Chris Evert and other big-name pros have encouraged Venus and Serena to come back, effectively placing the onus on them for bringing the ugliness to a close. In a way, today will do that, but let's be clear: They had every right to take exactly however long it took to get past this. If they never went back, it was their right. If this were a false narrative, you wouldn't stay away for so long ... and then go back. It's been a process for them and fortunately, they had each other throughout.
Venus says in her essay that for her, it's all about the tennis. OK, but when her career is over, this essay will be evidence that she and Serena are giants in the sport for other reasons that actually are bigger than tennis.
Play at IW starts at 11 a.m. and Venus has got the day session against Kurumi Nara and Serena's got the night match against Laura Siegemund.

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