DOING IT HER WAY: VENUS WILLIAMS FEATURED ON "60 MINUTES"
Published December 1, 1997
VENUS WILLIAMS and her father, RICHARD WILLIAMS, were featured by CBS's MORLEY SAFER on "60 Minutes." Safer called Venus "a godsend to a sport that has suffered declining interest in recent years. He debut at the U.S. Open was breathtaking -- speed, brute force and grace. And the bleachers ate it up. ... [A] star was born. An attitude one part Tiger Woods, three parts Muhammad Ali." Venus: "I am the best. Why shouldn't I believe that? And what's wrong with me thinking that I'm the best player out there?" RACISM? Safer: "Your dad said that there is a lot of racism is tennis. Do you agree with that statement?" Williams: "I'm not political." Safer: "No, but you have feelings." Williams: "Yes." Safer: "And what do your feelings tell you?" Williams, pausing: "I'd really rather not talk about that because when I go out there, I just go out there to play tennis." Safer: "But, a lot of African American athletes whom I've known over the years, are forced to feel that they're playing for more than their own victory, that they're playing for their people. Do you ever feel that?" Williams: "No. Maybe if I got older. When I go out there, I'm playing for me. Me and my family." ON DAD: Safer, on Richard Williams: "He is a cunning maverick, promotional genius, control freak and loving father." Richard, on his critics in the tennis establishment: "Anyone that's a professional tennis player or anyone that has anything to do with professional tennis, I don't think very much of them in no way. So I could care less what these experts think because these experts are worse than the girls that play. They're interested only in money. I'm interested in my daughter." Conde Nast Sports For Women Senior Contributing Writer SALLY JENKINS: "Observers like me have thought he was a little goofy, but it looks as though Richard has taken all of the advantages from the tennis world and none of the disadvantages." VENUS: Safer, on Venus: "She is unfailingly polite, has a sunny personality and a head full of nearly 2,000 beads. ... Those beads have become a fashion statement in inner city communities where Venus goes to tell kids they too can succeed." Safer's conclusion: "There are those who feel that the complexion of this game will soon change radically. The Williams sisters [Venus and younger sister Serena] and certainly their father have already upset a whole lot of people in the lily white world of tennis by not so much bucking the system as ignoring it with matchless self confidence" ("60 Minutes," CBS, 11/30).