Venus Williams Makes Emotional Plea For Equality

WASHINGTON, June 10, 2020 (by Michael Dickens)

“I am deeply saddened that it has taken multiple acts of police brutality to make people painfully aware of the racism that still pervades America.

“It shouldn’t.”

With those two sentences – containing 27 words in all – written by Venus Williams, the 39-year-old (she turns 40 next week) future Hall of Fame star bared her soul for her 1.2 million Instagram followers Monday night. She had a lot on her mind and didn’t hold back. When Williams was finished, the feedback she from her peers was all positive.

This just scratches the surface of the hideous face of racism in America.

Take a moment to imagine this:

If police brutality can exist and be tolerated so many years at this scale, imagine the other insidious acts of racism that permeate our country:

In the workplace.

In the justice system.

In the healthcare system.

In the education system.

The list goes on and on.

Speaking up about racism in the past was unpopular. It was shunned. No one believed you.

Until you have walked in these shoes, as an African American, it is impossible to understand the challenges you face in this country, in this world. What is it like to be unheard, thought of as foolish, silly or reckless to believe that racism still exists at every level.

This is no longer falling on deaf ears.

I’m amazed at the solidarity that has erupted across the USA. It has brought me to tears.

In the past, I had the honor of fighting for equal prize money for all women’s players at the grand slams in tennis. To make this even more simple to understand, just as sexism is not only a “women’s issue,” racism is not only a “black issue.” When we fought for and won equal prize money, everyone pitched in, men and women, all colors, all races. And We won.

When the majority groups stay quiet, when they sit in the chair of disbelief, they unwittingly condone the oppression of marginalized groups. Those with power and privilege actually have an easier time getting heard. They must CONTINUALLY exercise that privilege!

We MUST win!

We cannot let systematic racism persist.

We have to love one another. Help one another. Listen to one another, believe one another, even if we don’t understand or will never walk in our neighbor’s shoes.

Keep speaking out. Speak out today, tomorrow, next month, next year, each and every day until all things are equal for African Americans.

I am so happy, so relieved, as an African American, to finally be heard.

I pray for those who have lost their lives and for their families so America could finally start to wake up and act.

#blacklivesmatter

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At the end of Williams’s post, she posts a suggested reading list, which includes: The New Jim Crow by Michelle Alexander; Racist America: Roots, Current Realities and Future Reparations by Joe Feagin; and New World Translation of the Holy Scriptures by Watch Tower and Bible Tract Society.

Also, Williams listed organizations to contribute to, including Equal Justice Initiative, and grassroots programs she supports that promote sports and learning for African Americans and minorities: Washington Tennis and Education Foundation and First Serve Miami.

Hall of Fame great Billie Jean King, responded: “A powerful statement from a born leader. Thank you for speaking truth to power. I stand with you, always.” 

Former touring pro turned broadcaster (ESPN, Racquet Magazine Podcast) Rennae Stubbs wrote: “Amazing! You are amazing! Love you… ❤️”

“It was an amazing post,” said Hall of Famer and Tennis Channel Live panelist Lindsay Davenport on Tuesday. “I encourage everyone to go and read all of it. We hadn’t heard from Venus in the last week or so, but it was clear she took her time to make a heavy and powerful message. This is important to read, to hear everything Venus has to say. She’s amazing, she’s been a leader of our sport and this was an impactful piece that she posted.”

ITF announces qualifying criteria for Tokyo Olympics

The International Tennis Federation (ITF) announced that the tennis rankings after the 2021 French Open will be used to determine who qualifies for the Tokyo Olympics, which were postponed from this summer until July 2021 due to the novel coronavirus pandemic.

In a statement released on Tuesday, the ITF said its eligibility rules will be the same as what was originally set up, with requirements related to minimum participation in the Davis Cup and Fed Cup. There will also be a appeals process in place for players who do not meet those standards.

With next year’s French Open ending on June 6, the ATP and WTA rankings published on June 7 will be used to help determine which players qualify for the Tokyo Olympics.

Also, the ITF said that all athletes who would have been eligible in 2020 for the Tokyo Paralympic wheelchair tennis event will remain eligible next year.

Nadal and Gasol exceed coronavirus campaign goal

On Monday, Rafael Nadal and co-chair and NBA star Pau Gasol announced that their Red Cross campaign to raise funds for coronavirus in Spain has raised more than 14 million euros. The figure exceeds their original goal of 11 million euros.

“I think that between all of us we have achieved something important,” said Nadal, who also encouraged other Spanish sports figures like tennis players Garbiñe Muguruza, David Ferrer and Carla Suárez Navarro to assist with coronavirus fundraising in Spain, which has been one of the affected countries in Europe. “Not only the funds, which is more than 14 million, so the goal has been fully achieved, but the togetherness that we have shown.”

Behind The Racquet – Eden Silva

Eden Silva believes life experiences and tribulations only make a person stronger.

“It is tough when you get to that stage where you feel like the only thing you are is a tennis player,” Silva wrote in a first-person essay last month for the Instagram series Behind The Racquet. Born in London and coming from a multicultural background with parents of Russian and Sri Lankan descent, the 24-year-old Silva has traveled the world on the ITF World Tour, playing in locales such as Sharm El Sheikh, Antalya, Mumbai, Nottingham and Cherbourg-en-Cotentin, winning one title in Helsinki in November 2017.

“I was at a 10K in Italy, in 2015,” wrote Silva, who turned pro in 2014. “I served and volleyed and went to turn. At that moment, I didn’t know. It was very painful, but we went to the hospital straight away, and they did an X-ray. They said it’s all fine. A few days later, I still wasn’t able to walk and I knew something wasn’t right. I had a MRI and they confirmed it was a full cruciate ligament tear. As I went back into the surgeon’s office and he told me – it sounds like a movie, but everything around me went blurry and I couldn’t – I didn’t hear anything he said after that.”

As Silva continued in her essay, her rehab went well but then she developed an ear infection that required an operation and several months of inactivity for it to properly heal. She wrote: “I wasn’t able to train for three months after that. If it wasn’t for my family and friends, I think a lot of the time I just wouldn’t have even been able to be bothered to get out of bed.

“It just got to the stage where it was just one thing after another. When that happened with the ear I was just like, ‘I can’t. This is too much now. I really don’t think that I deserve this luck.’ I was lucky to have my mom and dad. They were saying that this is all a phase. Just need to get through it and you’d be back on track before you know it. Whenever I get a small injury I remember how strong my mind was back then and I know that I can get through it. I’m lucky to have a good physio and massage therapy team around me who constantly help to keep my body and injuries at bay. I’ve got confidence in them, so it gives confidence in me.“

Silva, who by age 12 was considered one of Great Britain’s best female players, is currently No. 486 in the latest WTA singles rankings after reaching a career-high of No. 424 in May 2019. Her win-loss record stands even at 150-150. She has earned $2,718 on the WTA Tour this season and $110,702 overall – both modest figures.

“When it gets taken away from you, then you start to question. You don’t know what to do with yourself once tennis has been taken away. But there is Eden the tennis player and then there is Eden the person who is also a sister, a best friend and a daughter. I got in touch with all those other things. Sometimes us athletes forget that it’s our life.”

Silva is an ambassador for Sporting Equals, where she promotes and supports the participation of ethnic minorities in sport in the United Kingdom.  As she notes on her website: “My journey so far has made me a strong person who is ready for the challenges that lie ahead of me.”

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“I was at a 10K in Italy, in 2015. I served and volleyed and went to turn. At that moment, I didn’t know. It was very painful, but we went to the hospital straight away, and they did an X-ray. They said it’s all fine. A few days later, I still wasn’t able to walk and I knew something wasn’t right. I had a MRI and they confirmed it was a full cruciate ligament tear. As I went back into the surgeon’s office and he told me– it sounds like a movie, but everything around me went blurry and I couldn’t— I didn’t hear anything he said after that.⁣ ⁣ My rehab went well, but then I had an ear infection. It was swollen and infected. They had to operate on it. I was in the hospital with an IV drip because the infection got really bad. After they operated on it, I wasn’t able to sweat. I needed to keep the area dry and clean. I wasn’t able to train for three months after that. If it wasn’t for my family and friends, I think a lot of the time I just wouldn’t have even been able to be bothered to get out of bed.⁣ ⁣ It just got to the stage where it was just one thing after another. When that happened with the ear I was just like, ‘I can’t. This is too much now. I really don’t think that I deserve this luck.’ I was lucky to have my mom and dad. They were saying that this is all a phase. Just need to get through it and you’d be back on track before you know it. Whenever I get a small injury I remember how strong my mind was back then and I know that I can get through it. I’m lucky to have a good physio and massage therapy team around me who constantly help to keep my body and injuries at bay. I’ve got confidence in them, so it gives confidence in me.⁣ ⁣ It is tough when you get to that stage where you feel like the only thing you are is a tennis player. When it gets taken away from you, you start to question. You don’t know what to do with yourself once tennis has been taken away. But there is Eden the tennis player and then there is Eden the person who is also a sister, a best friend and a daughter. I got in touch with all those other things. Sometimes us athletes forget that it’s our life.” @edensilva⁣ ⁣ Go to behindtheracquet.com for extended stories, podcast and merch.

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What they’re saying

Petra Kvitova, appearing on Tennis Channel Live Monday, was asked about the possibility of playing Grand Slams without fans. She said: “I’m not really sure how it would be if we played without fans, how we would handle it, how we would fight, how the emotions will be. That’s really one thing I’m gonna miss so much. We are playing for the fans and the fans are there for us. It would be very difficult to say yes or no. I know there’s many reasons to play and many reasons not to play. But it’s a bit extreme right now. It will be a very tough decision.”

What they’re sharing on social media

Rafa Nadal Academy / Graduation Day 

Sachia Vickery / I will always stand for what’s right

Karen Khachanov / Great feeling be back on court