Richard Williams: Blacks Still Not Welcome in Tennis

The pipeline of talented African-American tennis players will remain thin until blacks have their own tennis academy, says the father of Venus and Serena.

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Ever wonder who is following in the footsteps of Venus and Serena? Well, the pool of followup talent is thin. Richard Williams, the father of Venus and Serena, tells New York Times columnist Bill Rhoden it's because young black players are still made to feel not welcome. He wants to create a tennis academy that will nurture African-American talent.

Tennis has had well-documented difficulties in establishing and maintaining an African-American presence in its championship pipeline. Critics point out that the cost of the journey is exorbitant. But Williams said the problem went beyond money.

“You can only be good if you have a system behind you and not ahead of you, blocking you from getting there,” he said. “Institutions that could help blacks refuse. I think they drive blacks away from tennis.”

He said there would not be a significant black presence in tennis until African-Americans built and ran their own tennis academies. The solution, he said, is self-sufficiency. His vision is to build an academy, perhaps in Texas, that would house a resort and a school.

“If you can’t establish your own, this system has shown you that it is not going to accept you in their house,” he said. “If I had black people who wanted to work with me and we independently could set up something, we could create black tennis players. Other than that, it’ll never happen.”

Read the entire column in The New York Times.

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