Venus Rising

 

 

Venus in Orange

 

Power and Grace!

 

She came into the Wimbledon Games, one of the most prestigious events in sports, rated number 14 in the world. Many commentators on the tennis game openly questioned whether she could still compete seriously for a grand slam title, the most coveted prize in the game.  Others thought that whatever talent Venus had left would be eclipsed by the brilliant play of her sister Serena, who had dominated the woman’s game for the past few years.  However Serena, who came into the tournament ranked # 4 in the world but badly out of shape, was blown out by Jill Craybas in straight sets early in the competition. 

But Venus, following the example of the bumble bee who doesn’t know that according to the science of Aerodynamics he isn’t suppose to fly so he flies anyway, humiliated her little sister’s conquerors by crushing Jill Craybas in straight sets, 6-2 6-0, and dethroning the reigning champion Maria Sharapova in a one sided match where the tall Russian often looked like she just wanted to get away. Then Venus went on to play a historic match against Lindsay Davenport, at over two and a half hours the longest women’s championship in Wimbledon history, and emerged the Wimbledon Champion for the third time. A magnificent feat against the #1 rated women’s player in the world.

The competition was grand between these two California girls who have played each other 27 times, and the sportsmanship was of the highest order.  Eschewing the perversion of the ideal of sport as envisioned by the Greeks in the ancient Olympiad and once taught to American athletes in the venerable adage “It’s not whether you win or lose but how you play the game that counts,” an ideal revered in the US before it was replaced by Vince Lombardi’s vulgar dictum: “Winning is the only thing!”  Fortunately the attitude now so prevalent in professional football – a game that, like “The Star Spangled Banner” symbolizes the warmongering character of the US – has not totally captured the elite women’s tennis game. 

Thus at the end of the hard fought match that Lindsay came close to winning in straight sets, but was skillfully robbed by the indomitable Venus, she was a paragon of grace in defeat, embracing Venus warmly at the net and showering her with compliments in later interviews.  “I felt she deserved it.  She fought hard; she played well,” Said the gracious Davenport.  Venus was no less gracious in victory.  Although she literally jumped for joy after her incredible victory, Venus humbly observed “Lindsay played so well, so many times I was playing to save the match.”  Then this magnificent athlete, who the smart money had counted out, observed “You don’t know what life will throw at you.  I’m just happy when the sun comes up every day.”  Many observers thought that this statement was inspired by the recent murder of her sister in Compton, her old neighborhood, where she learned the game on glass strewn courts while on the lookout for stray bullets.

 Cheers!

venus-williams

Venus Triumphant!

 

So I say hats off to the marvelous Venus, a woman whose grace and beauty reminds me of a thoroughbred mare my grandfather owned when I was a boy in Florida.  Her name was ”Blackout,” inspired by her gleaming ebony coat.  I consider equines to be the most beautiful of all the animals, and Blackout was among the most beautiful of the species.  She was tall, beautifully built, designed for speed and power, and graceful beyond words.  When eloquence and high intelligence is added, this sounds like a perfect description of Venus Williams, Olympic Champion and Queen of Wimbledon.  While the sports pundits were putting her down Venus was rising, and success is always the best revenge.  I can hardly wait to see her when she brings her game to the US Open.

Playthell Benjamin

Harlem New York

July 6, 2005

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