Serena Williams: child vs. champion

Reader Jon sent a one-minute video of Serena Williams as a little girl (already great at tennis) and at the U.S. Open. John said “this is good for a commercial”, but it’s made by Nike and looks just like a commercial. Regardless, it’s really good. Jon’s take:

Caution: might make you tear up. This is good for a commercial. Nike used home movies of a 9-year-old Serena Williams with her father, Richard Williams, encouraging her and telling her to imagine she is at the US Open, with jump cuts of modern footage of the US Open. Toward the end she celebrates on court when she spots her father cheering in the stands. Her father was such a gentle, caring coach. To date, I think she’s won the US Open six times.


  1. Randall Schenck
    Posted August 30, 2018 at 2:41 pm | Permalink

    Tennis at that level is nuts. She is the best.

  2. David Coxill
    Posted August 30, 2018 at 2:53 pm | Permalink

    I often think of the Williams sisters when i hear a rotund white guy going on about white supremacy .

    • yazikus
      Posted August 30, 2018 at 2:55 pm | Permalink

      They are amazing – such great athletes, but they seem to be kind and civic minded people as well.

      • eric
        Posted August 30, 2018 at 8:28 pm | Permalink

        Yep. Great role models not just as athletes, but in showing that you can ‘have it all’ in terms of showing a good work/life balance while being at the top of an incredibly demanding profession.

    • WDB
      Posted August 30, 2018 at 3:41 pm | Permalink

      You know, I live in Arkansas and I seldom if ever hear rotund white men go on about white supremacy.

      The funny thing is that on those occasions when I do encounter that sort of thing they’ll always make racist allowances for race being better athletes or race being innately more intelligent though deficient in the area of driving automobiles.

      • infiniteimprobabilit
        Posted August 30, 2018 at 9:00 pm | Permalink

        It is odd that, in the realm of motorsport, ‘white’ i.e. European/US (and South American) drivers predominate. The only non-white driver that springs to mind is Lewis Hamilton. And Shekhar Mehta a couple of decades ago. Doubtless there are others but numerically they’re a drop in the bucket.

        Why this should be I just don’t know. A sort of historic reflection of the spread of cars, maybe?


  3. JezGrove
    Posted August 30, 2018 at 3:21 pm | Permalink

    You, she’s won the US Open six times – but only if you exclude her three doubles victories there! Awesome.

    • JezGrove
      Posted August 30, 2018 at 3:22 pm | Permalink

      That should be ‘Yup’, of course.

    • lkr
      Posted August 30, 2018 at 10:08 pm | Permalink

      Sorry, Jez:

      SW won US Open in 1999, 2002, 2008, 2012, 2013, and 2014 — six is correct

      VW won in 2000 and 2001

      SW+VW won women’s doubles in 1999 and 2009.

    • Roger
      Posted August 31, 2018 at 5:56 am | Permalink

      You, I thought you were doing a Robert De Niro there for a second, you. You…

  4. Mark
    Posted August 30, 2018 at 3:42 pm | Permalink

    You all understand that she’s a JW nut?

    • eric
      Posted August 30, 2018 at 8:29 pm | Permalink

      And this detracts from her tennis accomplishments…how?

      • ChrisS
        Posted August 31, 2018 at 12:17 am | Permalink

        Of course she’s victorious. Her opponents all belong to “Satan’s world.”

        Nah, maybe it is her sheer ability, after all.

  5. Filippo
    Posted August 30, 2018 at 4:35 pm | Permalink

    “Her father was such a gentle, caring coach.”

    For some reason, I have a memory of some years ago reading that he was (more than) a bit of a hard driver. Certainly I could be wrong about that. Certainly something is not true simply and solely because someone (including newspaper columnists) says it. Maybe what I heard regarded another athlete, perhaps Jennifer Capriati. (I think that a beautiful last name.) One occasionally hears of athletes’ overbearing (if not abusive) parents.

    • Posted August 30, 2018 at 8:17 pm | Permalink

      Richard Williams, Serena’s father, was controversial as a coach, mostly for his unorthodoxy, but he never approached the assholery of the really notorious tennis father/coaches. Capriati’s father, Stephano, was one of the worst. Maybe the worst. Another notable example on the women’s side was Jim Pierce, Mary Pierce’s father. Andre Agassi’s autobiography is a case study. His dad was a doozy.

    • Ken Kukec
      Posted August 30, 2018 at 10:31 pm | Permalink

      Yeah, Richard Williams was unconventional to the point of being considered a real rara avis character by the staid tennis establishment. (I recall early in the sisters’ careers when he jumped up on the roof of a broadcast booth at a major to do a little Thelonius Monk-style soft-shoe).

      But there’s never been any doubt he loves his daughters, and they, him. And there’s sure no arguing with the results. He took those gals straight outta the playgrounds of Compton to Centre Court Wimbeldon and all the other Majors.

      Serena’s the best damn women’s player ever to pick up a racquet, hands down. And Venus ain’t far behind.

      • Ken Kukec
        Posted August 30, 2018 at 10:32 pm | Permalink


      • infiniteimprobabilit
        Posted August 30, 2018 at 10:55 pm | Permalink

        Well, Richard Williams was the only father who could ever say, with absolute certainty, that he knew his daughter was going to win the Wimbledon final *before* the match started. (It was only a question of, which one?)


        • infiniteimprobabilit
          Posted August 31, 2018 at 6:58 am | Permalink

          (Errm, I don’t mean he ever said that, I just mean it would have been possible for him to say that)


  6. Mark R.
    Posted August 30, 2018 at 5:08 pm | Permalink

    I love watching her play…such power and precision. Thanks for posting this.

  7. infiniteimprobabilit
    Posted August 30, 2018 at 8:16 pm | Permalink

    I stayed up (here in NZ, it was the middle of the night) just to watch her play the Wimbledon final against Angelique Kerber. It was a replay of the 2016(?) final, except this time Kerber won. I was pleased for Kerber (it’s the first time she won Wimbledon) but I’m also happy to see that Serena’s back.


  8. Diane G
    Posted August 30, 2018 at 9:32 pm | Permalink

    Such a cute kid. Nice, feel-good commercial (& website post). 🙂

  9. Posted August 31, 2018 at 12:06 am | Permalink

    It shows that black people can overcome the racism in modern America if they work hard and have a father figure to guide them and bring them on.

  10. Jonathan Dore
    Posted August 31, 2018 at 3:56 am | Permalink

    Lovely — very cleverly edited.

  11. darrelle
    Posted August 31, 2018 at 8:22 am | Permalink

    Good commercial. I think many Nike commercials are pretty well done, just as little inspiration skits.

    Serena Williams is awesome. It is always beautiful to see people who excel doing whatever it is they excel at and Serena is a contender for best ever, to date.

  12. Andrea Kenner
    Posted September 3, 2018 at 1:33 pm | Permalink

    You were right. It did make me tear up!

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