Ordinary, extraordinary athletes
Venus and Serena are extraordinary athletes, changing the game of tennis by the number of their wins and smashing records for decades - Serena continues to be regarded as the greatest female tennis player of all time.
But why ordinary?
You may have observed that the first three books about athletes reviewed this month were about men. Men who competed nearly a century ago. Hopefully, you will also have noticed that each male athlete dealt with significant racism before, during and after their competitive seasons-of-life. Even now, shamefully, we look at these extraordinary athletes through the lens of race.
In a 2015 New York Times profile, Claudia Rankin wrote of Serena Williams' reactions to racism as completely normal behavior:
To accept the self, its humanity, is to discard the white racist gaze. Serena has freed herself from it. But that doesn’t mean she won’t be emotional or hurt by challenges to her humanity. It doesn’t mean she won’t battle for the right to be excellent. There is nothing wrong with Serena, but surely there is something wrong with the expectation that she be ‘‘good’’ while she is achieving greatness. Why should Serena not respond to racism? In whose world should it be answered with good manners? The notable difference between black excellence and white excellence is white excellence is achieved without having to battle racism.
It really is quite ordinary -- normal -- to respond to racists who would threaten or taunt them. Ordinary. And so worthy of admiration and emulation by our children!
A Few of the Really Good Books
Choosing additional books about Serena or Venus can be daunting, but your little tennis players looking for more about their favorite heroines can begin with
The Stories Matter
Disclaimer: Most of the books reviewed can be found at your public library or purchased through your local bookstore.
I am affiliate of Bookstore.org and will earn a commission if you click through the links and make a purchase from the Stories Matter storefront.
But, really, VISIT YOUR LOCAL PUBLIC LIBRARY!