BEFORE going ahead to conduct a well-attended tennis clinic at the Ikoyi Club 1938 on Wednesday, the Williams sisters told a crowded press conference held at the Federal Palace Hotel, Victoria Island, that there was no magic surrounding their storied success story, and that she believed that Nigerians have a right to dream big las she and her sister did, and follow their dreams with the absolutely necessary ideals of hard work, sacrifices, self-denials, will-to-succeed, and an indomitable spirit never to feel discouraged when things are not going well at the early stages.
Speaking on behalf of her elder sister and herself (with the willing permission of “big sister” Venus, of course), Serena said: “Let no one tell you that you’re not good enough, or that you do not have what it takes to succeed in whatever discipline, not only sports, that is your choice.”
Admitting that they took their never-say-fail attitude from their parents (Richard and Oracene), Venus added, “without the doggedness of our parents who turned deaf ears to many skeptics who said there was no way we could make it in a white-dominated sport, especially with our dad’s single-minded approach to training us, we would not be where we are today.”
But the sisters did not argue when one of the accredited reporters remarked that they (the sisters) also “must have been good and serious-minded children themselves to have stuck to what their parents imbibed in them i.e. personal discipline, hard work, prayerfulness, determination to give it their all, and follow the dictates of their parents.”
Commending the appropriateness of the theme “Breaking the Mould” by Connect Marketing, the organizers of the much-appreciated high-profile visit of the celebrity sisters to Nigeria by the generality of Nigerians at home in Nigeria, and in diaspora, Venus had some words of advice to the captive audience from the Nigeria media, and the world press, for onward delivery to their readers, particularly Nigerian children and their parents. “For anyone to succeed in any endeavour, one has to love what one does. Added to what our parents have done for us, the key is that we love what we do, and once you love what you do, and you’re not lacking in self-belief, the sky is the limit to what you can achieve.”
On Serena’s part, the reigning Wimbledon, US Open, Olympics, and season-ending WTA championships champion contributed her view, “The best compliment we could get and cherish for our visit to Nigeria, is that young kids have chosen to play tennis because of our visit. Obviously, you can’t beat that… And talking about “breaking the mould” which my big sister alluded to, it is true that Jehovah God has used us (my sister and I) to demonstrate the fact that, you can succeed in spite of all kinds of hurdles and barriers… Once you put your mind to it, you can achieve everything you set your goals for.”
“You have everything you need to succeed, particularly the weather which is absolutely tennis-friendly… It is true that my sister and I faced a lot of difficulties in the beginning, but with what we have been able to achieve, with the help of Jehovah God, all the hurdles we had to scale over, are truly worth it.”
For the records, no active player anywhere in the world is more successful than the amazing sisters, with Venus having won 44 WTA titles including seven Grand Slam Singles titles, and an attendant $30 million in just prize money, coupled with her younger sister’s 46 WTA titles, and at least $42 million in prize money.
But in spite of all that success, the sisters are not showing any signs of let up. While Venus not-too-long ago, just came back on the WTA tour after a career-threatening ailment, she won her first title in a WTA Vienna event two weeks ago, her first title in two years, while her younger sister was preparing for the year-ending WTA championships in Istanbul, Turkey, from where she flew direct to Nigeria less than 48 hours after demolishing the topmost seven players in the world to win a third WTA Championships after earlier winning the prestigious title in 2001 and 2009.
For how much longer can the Williams sisters continue to compete with the world’s best, who are younger, a reporter wanted to know.
With one voice, both sisters answered, “we have our mind on the Rio 2016 Olympic Games, and we are not planning on just to be part of the sporting world’s biggest spectacle, we plan to go there with the purpose of winning for our country.
And when another reporter wanted to know the “real truth” about which is their country (from Badagry, may be), given the fact that their departed sister, was named Yetunde, Serena answered, without mincing words, “our country is the United States, and we are always proud to represent our country. Our mother named our sister Yetunde after her friend, a Nigerian student who was her friend in their college (university) days in California.”
Will it be the sisters be visiting Nigeria? “You can be sure of that,” replied Venus. “We love Nigeria, we really do, and we’re so glad we have so many fans in Nigeria.”
The sisters will face each other at an Exhibition Match at the Lagos Lawn Tennis Club, Race-Course, Lagos, Southwest Nigeria, on Friday, commencing strictly at 10.00 a.m.
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