LAST Saturday, Serena Williams won the Women’s Singles trophy of the 2012 Wimbledon Tennis Championship in London. She equaled the fifth championship that her elder sister, Venus, had won at the All-England club. At the presentation ceremony, Serena confessed she always wanted whatever her elder sister had! John McEnroe, one of the best tennis players of all time, described Serena as the greatest female player ever.
A few hours after winning the ladies’ single, Serena partnered Venus to win the women’s double trophy; it was also the fifth won by the sisters. Writing in the London DAILY MIRROR of Monday, July 9, 2012, in a provocatively titled piece “No love game for winner Williams in SW 19”, Laura Williamson said: “to watch Williams is to be impressed by her power, swagger, physical stature and astonishing reserves of mental grit…” She added that: “the Williams’ incredible success has come by challenging the limits of women’s tennis, providing something different to what went before”.
The story of these remarkable African-American sports stars is one of utmost determination to overcome the social obstacles of a racist American society and with utmost single-mindednessthey succeeded in a sport that was typically White and middle class.
Their father, Richard Williams, decided they would make a success of their lives in sports as well as develop all-round interest in other areas of human endeavours; and they did! I have written about their lives and achievements in one of my columns in DAILY TRUST in the past.
I was drawing attention, especially in Northern Nigeria, to what a determined effort can build, especially for the girl child in our community. If the Williams sisters can rise to the pinnacle of their sport, surely, we can also encourage our daughters and sisters to become very productive and engaged members of our community. I write that as a father of young daughters who have shown incredible ability in academics and who love ballet, swimming, languages, music and who constantly say they would like to explore the world, do things in fashion design, architecture and so on!
The sky literally is the limit and the example of the Williams sisters speaks to our country and especially to Northern Nigeria. Someone sent me a text in response, that I was asking them to copy girls who dressed ‘half naked’; but I challenged him to let his daughters dress in the mode acceptable to his religious confession, but nevertheless encourage them to be the best of themselves.
So when the remarkable Williams sisters, Serena and Venus, became victorious again last weekend, I decided to remind of their inspiring story with the hope that we can do even better for all the girls of our beautiful country!