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What Serena Williams — Queen Of Tennis — Means To The Sports World47:32
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Serena Williams. The undisputed queen of tennis, and what she’s meant in sports and beyond.

Serena Williams reacts after winning a point against Kiki Bertens, of the Netherlands, during the second round of the U.S. Open tennis tournament, Wednesday, Sept. 2, 2015. (Charles Krupa/AP)
Serena Williams reacts after winning a point against Kiki Bertens, of the Netherlands, during the second round of the U.S. Open tennis tournament, Wednesday, Sept. 2, 2015. (Charles Krupa/AP)

Serena Williams is a force of nature. In the middle of the U.S. Open right now, in a year that could see her win a Grand Slam — the Australian Open, the French Open, Wimbledon, the U.S. Open. All four. Only two men have ever done it. Only three women. And Serena Williams is on the verge not after coming up country club with her sister Venus, but after coming up Compton. In her race, in her powerful body type, in her attitudes, in her play, she has carved her own way. An amazing story. An icon. This hour on On Point: we're looking at Serena Williams, and what she's meant in sports and beyond.
- Tom Ashbrook
Watch this video interview of Serena and Venus as children:

Guests

Tandaleya Wilder, sports commentator and NPR contributor. Founder of SheGotGame Media, a PR and radio sports production company, and produces a sports podcast called the SheGotGame Minute. (@MissSheGotGame)

Peter Bodo, tennis writer for ESPN.com. Author of "Ashe vs. Connors: Wimbledon 1975." (@ptbodo)

Zina Garrison, professional tennis player from 1982 to 1997. Runner-up at Wimbledon in 1990, three-time Grand Slam mixed doubles champion, women’s doubles gold medalist at the 1988 Olympic Games. Current coach of professional tennis player Taylor Townsend. Founder of the Zina Garrison Tennis Academy. (@beyondthegold)

Tom's Reading List

Grantland: Serena Williams's Moment, Forever -  "As a black woman from Compton in a sport whose roots are affluent and white, Serena has always meant more to tennis, has always burned more intensely within the game, than her career trajectory alone would suggest. She has presented a threat to tennis fans opposed to change, and tennis fans have sometimes presented a threat to her. Her career has felt larger than life partly because of its transformative power and partly because of the drama that power has awakened in stadiums, over and over again: Rarely in the history of modern sports has a figure of such obvious strength seemed to stand so often in a kind of atmospheric peril. The strength was greater than the peril, and that’s one thing, apart from her talent, that she has given us."

New York Times: Serena Williams's Links To A Pioneer Keep Growing Clearer - "Serena Williams is currently the beneficiary of a love fest, though this has not always been the case. Many of those throwing roses along Williams’s path to glory once threw darts. There has been criticism over her angry outbursts on court, questions about whether she played in enough matches each year and even her body type."

Huffington Post: When We Attack Serena Williams's Body, It's Really About Her Blackness - "Williams has been breaking records (and barriers) in the tennis world since she first entered it as a teen, winning her 21st Grand Slam on Saturday. And yet, despite her athletic prowess, she has been the target of racist and sexist attacks for the better part of a decade. Over the years, Williams has been described by online commenters and journalists alike as a "gorilla," as "manly" and as "savage." "

This program aired on September 4, 2015.

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