When one thinks of The Williams Sisters, we think ‘power’ and ‘dominance’. Seeing Serena and Venus in action, their undeniable talent and superiority is showcased in every fiery serve and winner. No two players are more important in the modern women’s game.
The Williams Sisters visited South Africa recently for their ‘Breaking The Mould Campaign’ – a visit that would inspire local stars and development youth in Soweto – a large township in Johannesburg. The campaign was largely one to empower women in sports and to support those who have overcome adversity and who better than Serena and Venus Williams to drive the project?
More than a tennis clinic for Soweto youth and an exhibition match for the many fans in South Africa, the campaign brought about a message for woman looking to break the mould and make a difference with their talent. Modest and excited about the campaign, Venus and Serena tried to ignore the raging questions from the media about their ATP rankings and the nearing Australian Open. Serena, especially hounded with questions on her successful 2012 year grabbing Wimbledon and an Olympic gold, simply said “Oh, I’ll be number one again. It’s just a matter of time.”
But their attention was drawn back to their campaign and their visit. Despite their end-of-year fatigue, their dedication to give back and teach underprivileged children how to hit a forehand down the line didn’t hold them back. “This is more important than any tennis ball I’m going to hit,” Venus said, “its special to connect with culture and I’m inspired to give back any way I can.”
Between the sisters, they hold 20 Grand Slam wins and don’t look like stopping soon. The very campaign of ‘breaking the mould’ seemed appropriate for the two. They’ve already defied the odds by ridding opponent after opponent and turning women’s tennis into a more exciting spectator sport. Speaking about tennis development in Africa as a whole, Serena gave her simple stance, “You need the development programmes. You also need those parents who believe in the kids,” she said. Especially in South Africa, women in sport is still looked down on as “second rate” to the men’s game. It’s a familiar thing worldwide but the competitiveness in Africa is obviously a little more bleak than the rest of the world.
The Williams Sisters provide a shining light to young tennis players (especially young women) in South Africa. They need the role models who say ‘You can make a difference’. Being grounded and defying the odds is what the Sisters are all about and perhaps there are many more woman superstars that can inspire young girls to break into sport. Perhaps the women’s game can be as important as the men’s game and that the competitive nature, something so admirable in Serena and Venus, can be harnessed.