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How Serena and Venus Williams’ Father Helped Push the Sisters to Tennis Stardom

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Richard Williams coached his daughters hard from a young age, setting the sisters up for domination in the sport for more than two decades.

Venus Williams was just 17 years old when she played in the first tennis match against the woman who would soon become her greatest on-the-court rival: her sister, Serena Williams, who was only 16 when the two met at the 1998 Australian Open.

Venus won that match in straight sets, then won the rematch that followed later that year at the Italian Open. From that point on, the sisters took the tennis world by storm, revolutionizing the game and taking home an unprecedented number of championships and trophies. Combined, they have won 122 singles titles, including 30 Grand Slam singles titles, and earned over $175 million in prize money. And while they’re considered rivals on the court, they’re actually very close — together, they’ve won 22 doubles titles as teammates, 14 of which have been in Grand Slam competitions.

The Williams sisters have dominated the tennis world for decades. You can chalk a fair amount of it up to preternatural talent, but had it not been for the dedication of their father, Richard Williams, and their disciplined childhoods, they probably wouldn’t have ever played tennis at all.

Richard never had any interest in tennis until one day, sitting at home in Long Beach, California, he caught a broadcast of the prestigious French Open. It wasn’t the act of hitting a ball back and forth on a clay court that caught his eye, nor was it the incredible athleticism and determination of the competitors that made him sit up. Instead, it was the prize money — $40,000 to the tournament winner — that piqued his interest.

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How Serena and Venus Williams' Father Helped Push the Sisters to Tennis  Stardom - Biography

From that point forward, Richard decided that he’d raise champion tennis players, no matter what it took. He had stepchildren from his wife Oracene’s previous marriage and he taught them the game, but it was clear that he’d have a better chance of molding his and Oracene’s younger daughters, Venus and Serena, into world-class athletes.

Locals recall Venus and Serena holding tennis rackets in their strollers as their parents played in the early 1980s, learning the game so they could pass it on to their daughters. Richard had been a football player in Shreveport, so he had athleticism and discipline that made him a quick study.

Venus got her first real lessons when she was just 4 years old. Serena tagged along and was soon begging to play, too. The young sisters hardly ever left the courts, grinding through practice sessions that started as early as 6 a.m. and stretched into the dark of night after school was out. They sometimes had to return 500 volleys just to earn a rest for the evening.

Eating up all that court time didn’t come without its complications or sacrifices.

Venus Williams Serena Williams

Venus and Serena Williams in 1998

Photo: Clive Brunskill/Allsport

Venus and Serena began their tennis educations in Compton

Shortly after Venus was born, the Williams family moved to Oracene’s hometown of Saginaw, Michigan, which is where Serena was born in 1981. They returned to California a few years later and wound up in Compton, a working-class neighborhood that was plagued with drugs and violence throughout the 1980s.

Gangs tended to control the local parks and tennis courts, which were generally rundown and dilapidated. Richard often had to argue with and even fight gang members in order to get court time — and early on, the fights didn’t tend to go his way, leaving him with broken ribs and 10 teeth knocked out of his skull. After a while, though, Richard willed himself to victory over those who would stop him from turning his girls into champion athletes.

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“It had taken two years and almost destroyed my body and my spirit,” Richard wrote in his 2014 memoir. “But in that moment, none of that mattered. What mattered was the courts were ours.”

Not only did Richard win, some gang members even began to serve as unofficial security guards during the long, grueling father-daughter practice sessions. In 2015, he told CNN that at one point, white children who were bussed in to play on the courts began shouting at his daughters. Gang members who were watching the taunting implored him to step in, but Richard just watched as it happened.

“When (they) came to me and said, ‘You can’t talk to Venus in that way … I said, ‘Watch out. I’m going to do what I want to do,’” he recalled. “Criticism is one of the greatest things, I think, that we’ve been trained to live through.”

They outlasted every obstacle, distraction and danger, including gunshots that would ring out as they worked on their own blistering serves. They weren’t the target, but it was still terrifying for a couple of kids.

“At first, I just thought someone was setting off firecrackers or popping some balloons, but once I learned what the sound meant it would shake me up pretty good,” Serena wrote in her 2009 autobiography, Queen of the Court.

Serena Williams Venus Williams

Serena and Venus in 2017

Photo: Scott Barbour/Getty Images

A move south allowed the Williams sisters’ talents to blossom

In 1991, the Williams family moved to Florida so that Venus and Serena could train full-time. It was already obvious that the young tennis prodigies were destined for great things. They were recruited to the Palm Beach area by a coach named Rick Macci, who saw early on that they had remarkable potential. When Venus and Serena weren’t training with Macci, they were playing at local courts — again, rundown and fractured, though there were no gang members this time.

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“What blew me away about Venus and Serena was the burning desire,” Macci told the Palm Beach Post in 2017. “Almost like ‘I got to get every ball, I’m not letting anything get past me.’”

Even as they trained with professionals, Richard was tough on his daughters, demanding more out of them every day.

“Half the time he wouldn’t want new balls, he would use bad balls so the girls would have to run faster and bend lower,” Macci recalled. “He’d throw a beer bottle in the back of the court just so there’d be broken glass.”

Neither Williams sister competed in a tournament until they went pro, eschewing the tradition of moving through the junior ranks. But they went pro remarkably early — Venus turned pro first, at just 14 years old, in 1994. Serena followed a year later.

The rest is history — and their original hometown is keen to commemorate it. In November 2016, the sisters traveled to back to Compton (well, technically East Rancho Dominguez Park, as their old neighborhood was incorporated on its own) to have their old courts, now entirely rebuilt, named in their honor.

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How Scarlett Johansson’s ‘Black Widow’ Costumes Were Custom-Designed for Comfort

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Costume designer Jany Temime says working on Marvel’s “Black Widow” was a dream job. She doesn’t know the exact number of costumes she created, but it was “a lot.”

The costume designer who counts “Judy,” “Skyfall” and six of the Harry Potter films including “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part I and II” among her credits, turned to the Russian and Norwegian armies and the circus for “Black Widow” for design inspirations as new characters such as Yelena (Florence Pugh) and the Red Guardian (David Harbour) are introduced.

Temime also inherited Scarlett Johansson in the title role, whose costume that had already been established. This time around, she made a few tweaks to allow for comfort, sculpting it to suit a woman’s body.

 

Scarlett Johansson as Black Widow/Natasha Romanoff

Here, she breaks down designing those looks.

On Inheriting the Black Widow Outfit and the Marvel Comic Universe

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Scarlett Johansson’s suit got a little more stretch for extra comfort.Jay Maidment

 

 

With the Black Widow costume, I changed a few things and adapted it to Scarlett and her body. When you get the design, you have a computer reality and you have the reality of a woman’s body, and you have to put those two things together.

To make it comfortable, we had the base of the costume made from rubbery fabric. I also added in a design graphic to stop it from looking flat, and that was printed out.

Between the seams, we allowed two to three millimeters of elastic fabric to give some room and stretch because I didn’t want her to feel like she was in something tight. I was so happy to hear Scarlett say that it was the most comfortable outfit.

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The way we cut it too was glamorous, we cut the waist a little higher because you have to model the suit to the body to flatter it.

I also designed the young widow outfits which they gave me carte blanche with, and again, they were enthusiastic about it. It was such a collaboration and so dreamy. I also understood what [director] Cate Shortland wanted and her vision, especially for that opening sequence.

Introducing Yelena and the White Suits

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Since Yelena came from Russia, I looked at it from a different point of view. I looked at photos of the Russian and Norwegian army and I came across some of the soldiers in the snow wearing white, and that’s where the white uniform idea came from – also they pick up their “father” in the show so I thought that would look gorgeous.

I wanted her outfit to be more functional and more army-like. I used double fabric with cotton and nylon stitched together gave it volume which had this sportswear look to it. Her look was less of a superhero than just a normal one.

We also had to introduce the green vest. She says in the film she bought this vest with all those pockets, and the idea was that she had come out of that brainwashed spy world, and buys that. So, I made something easy to wear, sturdy, practical and based on post-‘50s sportswear fashion.

When you look at the women in their different suits, I hope you can feel and see the difference between Russia and the USA.

Scarlett’s white suit was made from similar fabrics used on scuba diving suits – that’s what gave it a rubbery look.

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And again, I printed other aspects of the costume to make it interesting and to create that lift so it didn’t look flat and boring, and just to cut that monotony of plain rubber-coated fabric.

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Scarlet Johansson’s “Black Widow” suit was printed to give it more dimensionality.Courtesy of Marvel Studios

The Red Guardian

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David Harbour’s helmet was inspired by the look of a human cannonball at a circus.Courtesy of Youtube

I wanted to design something that reflected what the Soviet Union thought America was. So, there was this superhero design with this primary color of red, that helmet that looks terrible with that piece under the chin, and it was so old fashioned, almost like an old-fashioned comic.

That helmet was inspired by those guys who are shot out of cannons at the circus.

David was amazing. I created it for him and on him. He is the sort of actor who could feel the part from the inside out. He didn’t mind being slightly ridiculous as long as you get the effect, especially in that sequence where he is trying on the costume for the first time and it’s so tight.

 

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Tiger Woods arrives at Adare Manor in JP McManus’ helicopter ahead of Pro-Am

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Competing against Woods on 4 and 5 July will be a stacked field of golfers that includes 10 of the top 11 players in the world

Tiger Woods arrived at Adare Manor on Sunday ahead of the JP McManus Pro-Am.

Tiger Woods

Woods came on JP McManus’ private helicopter to the Irishman’s estate, where he will play in the two-day tournament alongside three members of the Smurfit family.

A video shared by the DP World Tour on Twitter showed the 15-time major winner arriving on McManus’ helicopter, which is usually seen at horse racing meetings up in both Ireland and the UK.

McManus has attracted ten of the top 11 players in the world to his Limerick estate for the tournament, which takes place on July 4 and 5.

And world number one golfer Scottie Scheffler will tee off alongside Ryanair boss Michael O’Leary on Monday,

Niall Horan, Bill Murray and Jamie Dornan are among a host of celebrity names set to take part in the tournaments.

Competing against Woods on 4 and 5 July will be a stacked field of golfers that includes 10 of the top 11 players in the world.

Adare Manor will also host the 2027 Ryder Cup

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Forget Serena Williams’ zebra outfit, ‘human highlighter’ Rafael Nadal is raising eyebrows

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Serena Williams arrived at Roland Garros with a zebra-striped outfit, but Rafael Nadal’s “ugly” shirt also got a lot of people talking.

After wearing a black catsuit at the 2018 French Open that got the tongues wagging so much so that the French tennis bosses all but banned catsuits, Williams opted for something different this year.

Here it is if you haven’t seen it yet.
Serena Williams zebra outfit

Some people liked it.

 

Some didn’t like it.

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Rafael Nadal admits his mistake against Lorenzo Sonego, “there are codes that we must respect”

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Nadañ called Lorenzo Sonego to the net to complain

Rafael Nadal became the seventh player aged 36 or older to reach the quarter-finals of Wimbledon.

Rafael Nadal vs. Lorenzo Sonego Wimbledon Odds, Pick, Prediction (July 2)

However, during the game, Nadal called Lorenzo Sonego to the net.

The Spaniard tennis player pressured the Italian to agree to close the roof, and complain about Sonego’s extensive screaming.

In the middle of the third set, Nadal told Sonego to stop faking his scream while the Spaniard volleyed.

During the press conference, Rafa Nadal said he made a mistake.

Match Result: Rafael Nadal vs Lorenzo Sonego: Rafa marches on

“I think I was wrong,” Rafa mentioned.

“I spoke to him in total calmness. I exposed the situation that was happening. If I needed to go back, I wouldn’t do it again,” Nadal continued.

“I told the referee before. The referee, who is one of the bests, was waiting until the change of service to tell him something.”

“Were are among colleagues, we see each other every week. There are codes inside a tennis court that must be respected. I believe I was wrong for calling him to the net and telling him the things.”

“I should’ve told him when we switched (serves) or wait until the referee told him,” Nada said.

Rafael Nadal Doesn't Fall for Nick Kyrgios's Bag of Tricks - The New York  Times

Rafa making history:

Rafa Nadal is the seventh player aged 36 or older to reach the quarter-finals of Wimbledon.

Despite the difference in the scoreboard, there was an argument on the court.

Nadal said Sonego extended his screaming on purpose to discomfort Nadal’s game.

Sonego shouted after hitting the ball.

Rafa Nadal: When I wake up I don't have the pain I had for a year and a  half | Marca

Rafa, at 36 years and 29 days old, has stopped time, especially since he seems to have found an antidote for his injured left foot.

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Nadal will rest to prepare for his clash against Botic van de Zandschulp scheduled for Monday.

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Dijana Djokovic reveals the most difficult match of Novak’s to watch

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The mother of World No. 1 Novak Djokovic says watching her son at the Wimbledon singles final last year was the most difficult time she has had while watching her son play in his career. Djokovic came back from match points down to defeat Roger Federer in a classic five setter to win the Wimbledon title in July even as the whole stadium seemed to cheer for the Swiss legend.

They write terrible things about Novak Djokovic because he bothers them,  says mother Dijana

Dijana was speaking in an interview with the Serbian portal “Blic Sport” on the program, “Mothers of Champions” “I saw a lot of his matches, but Wimbledon was the most difficult last year. In a stadium where everyone was cheering on Roger Federer, we were just a handful of fans for Novak.

When Federer had two match points, I reached for my cross from the Don river. I am a believer, I wear the amulet all the time, it often saved me in difficult moments. I said to myself, ‘Nole, you can do it, you’ve done it twice, you can do it again.’

 

He did it. He was saved by God. Novak also believes in God, he feels chosen. He carries a cross that brings him peace and happiness. It is from the Greek monastery Hilandar. He says his prayers morning and evening,” The mother of the 17-time Grand Slam champion also recalled another painful defeat – at the Rio Olympics in 2016, where he lost to World No.

Dijana Djokovic reveals the most difficult match of Novak's to watch

1 Juan Martin del Potro in the first round. “The defeat at the Olympics in Rio still breaks my heart. Novak is a happy child and has no problem crying. But the tears at that time were the biggest I have ever seen with him.

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He had all the prerequisites to win gold. The wish was not granted to him. He had this elbow problem and couldn’t stand the pressure. He felt that he had disappointed the people in Serbia. We were both very emotional. Maybe he got that from me – sometimes I curse quite a lot.”

Dijana also gave some insight about some of the early health problems that Novak suffered during his career. “At the beginning of his career, Novak had many health problems. Because he had to give up a few matches, he was often attacked by the public or by tennis experts.

Djokovic racks up 80th Wimbledon win - Global Times

He had a curvature of the nose wall, it was difficult for him to breathe. After an operation, things went better. In 2010 he was found to be intolerant to gluten. It made life difficult for him. He had to give up in Australia because of the heat.

Then his bleeding toe in Paris in 2007: after playing for five consecutive days, he gave up the semi-final against Nadal. Then everyone accused him, including John McEnroe! I had bandaged his foot the night before the duel. In the morning he could barely walk in slippers.

I advised him not to go to the court, he absolutely wanted to get an injection. Then he beat Nadal 6-2 in the first set. Novak took a medical timeout between sets to bandage the wounds. When Nadal saw the blood, he knew what was going on and then chased him into every corner until Novak had to give up.”

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