Williams Sisters wintnessing

by Joker10 8 Replies latest jw friends

  • Joker10

    Sports Illustrated, Sept 21, 1998 v89 n12 p116(1)

    A ringling endorsement: Venus and Serena Williams may be a lot of things, but they're not victims. (tennis stars Venus and Serena Williams are Jehovah's Witnesses and take some four to five hours a week to call on people)(Brief Article)(Column) Rick Reilly.

    Full Text: COPYRIGHT 1998 Time, Inc.

    THERE'S THE damn doorbell and you're still in your hangover and you just know it's those annoying Jehovah's Witnesses. So you fling the door open to ask them if they'd mind coming back next century, and who do you see standing there but Venus and Serena Williams, their beads bouncing, their braces gleaming, wanting to know if you have a minute to chat about the Lord.

    "At first people are a little shocked," says Venus and Serena's mother, Oracene, who has taken them door-to-door since they were babies. "They want to talk about tennis, but we'd rather talk about the Bible."

    You don't normally get the world's No. 5- and No. 19-ranked women tennis players leaning on your buzzer, but these are the Williams sisters of Palm Beach Gardens, Fla., and they haven't been within a shuttle flight of normal in years.

    How many world-class tennis players were kept out of junior tournaments by their father? How many millionaire sisters have only one friend--each other? How many wear skintight, cutout tennis dresses that could make an abbot snap a rosary? How many can say they speak French and are learning Russian and Portuguese? How many sit down at a press conference and challenge reporters to look up the derivation of words? (Last week's word: ghetto.)

    The Williams sisters are cocky and insular. They're also gorgeous, rich, smart, polite, gifted, well-spoken, huge and improving like mad, and they'd definitely like to get you some reading materials, if you're interested. "We go to rich neighborhoods, poor neighborhoods, everywhere," says Oracene. "People slam doors on us," says Serena, "but that's their problem. We don't take it personally."

    They do take it seriously, 4 1/2 hours every week, including the time spent writing letters and cold-calling people. At last week's U.S. Open, Venus, 18, made it to the semifinals and Serena, 16, won her second Grand Slam mixed doubles title in a row, but the work they think is most important is serving up the ways of the Witnesses to other players, coaches and their families. They rush the locker room with their pocket-sized Witness books, pamphlets and copies of The Watchtower magazine. If the player doesn't speak English, they get her a book in a language she does speak.

    So far, they haven't won a point. "I'm not aware of any I've converted, no," says Serena. But as their mother always says, "They might slam the door this time, but next time it might stay open."

    Witnesses don't sing the national anthem, say the Pledge of Allegiance, accept blood transfusions or celebrate holidays, including Christmas, or their birthdays. They believe that Christ died on a stake, not a cross, and that exactly 144,000 people will go to heaven. They believe that the man is the head of the household and the woman is the "weaker vessel" a belief that gets a little shaky when you see 6' 2", 168-pound Venus blow her women's-record 125-mph serve by some shivering Slovak.

    The only problem is that the head of the Williams household, Richard, isn't a Witness, which helps explain why he smokes like a tire fire (a definite Witness no-no) and worships graven images (himself, whom he calls King Richard). "Well," says Serena, "everybody's different."

    Some people in tennis wish the entire Williams family would fall down a very deep well followed closely by a very snug lid, but the truth is, the Williams family is the best thing to happen to women's tennis since the scrunchee. Women's tennis has always had more victims than a Red Cross shelter. It's full of young girls with great backhands and facial tics. Mary Pierce needed a court order to keep her dad away. Jennifer Capriati's father threw her to the pros at 13. Just last week, Croatia's Mirjana Lucic showed up at the Open after fleeing her homeland just to escape her allegedly abusive father.

    Not the Williams sisters. The Williams sisters may be a lot of things, but they're not victims. I wouldn't become a Jehovah's Witness even if its only spiritual requirement were facing toward Hershey, Pa., and eating Milk Duds, but I admire the way they're unafraid to stand up for their religion. Also the way they're unafraid of tennis's virtually all-white press, tennis's virtually all-white locker rooms and, come to think of it, virtually all-white tennis. They say what they want, say it well and hate to lose.

    In other words, don't answer the door.

  • sunshineToo

    Interesting. They seem to have a special treatment from the jws. Apparently they weren't told to pioneer instead of playing tennise.

    Please somebody tell them about the Silent Lambs

  • Euphemism

    Please note that this article is almost five years old. I believe that the Williams sisters are currently inactive.

  • Panda

    Ebony magazine had an article in Apr or May 2003 discussing the Williams women. Venus and Serena have 3 (I think) other sisters. Earlier this year the parents divorced and the Dad "King Richard" no longer attends the tennis tournaments. According to Mom the divorce was all friendly and amicable???? No divorce is friendly and amicable... or am I just a cynic. Venus and Serena (when askeed about celebrating Mothers Day) said it's just like any other day, they always honor their Mom (which is probably true). In this article there was no talk about field service so maybe they are inactive --- one can always hope that these intelligent young women will continue to grow and learn.

  • Gordy

    When they were playing at Wimbledon this year.

    They had a recorded interview with Serena Williams on the radio, late at night on I think it was BBC World Service.

    She was asked about her religion and what part it played in her life.

    She replied that it had been a part of her growing up and gave her some good moral guidelines. (Mind you, have you seen the way she dresses sometimes.)

    This what surprised me she then said "But it no longer has an important role to play in her life."

  • rocketman

    This what surprised me she then said "But it no longer has an important role to play in her life."

    Surprises me too....I guess maybe all that stardom and money may have gotten the better of her (from the jw standpoint).

  • berylblue

    It ain't so bad to be a Witness when you're rich, can break the rules with impunity, and have thousands of persons admiring you.

  • Hamas

    I see the Watchtower have resorted to Witnessing to animals to gain more converts.

    With this in mind, I suppose Venus and Serena could communicate and Witness quite well !

  • garybuss

    "If you are one of the Jonadabs or one of the 'great crowd' of good-will persons you will like to mingle with the animals"
    (The Watchtower, Jan. 15,1952 p.63-4)

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