Supporting Serena

Dr. E. Faye Williams | 9/20/2018, 6 a.m.
Two very talented African-American women — Serena Williams and Naomi Osaka — went out to play a game of tennis …


Dr. E. Faye Williams

Two very talented African-American women — Serena Williams and Naomi Osaka — went out to play a game of tennis in the recent U.S. Open final. I’m sure each of them looked forward to a great game.

Other than Venus and Serena playing each other, we had not had a chance to have two African-American women play such a match.

Ms. Osaka is a sister, too, and showed her concern for the way Serena was treated. She may have Japanese blood, but it’s her African-American side that the chair umpire, Carlos Ramos, prevented from enjoying her victory.

Ms. Osaka had won one set, but Serena was winning when the dastardly call and act by the umpire occurred. Mr. Ramos issued Serena a warning for a coaching violation, which Serena challenged very vocally. In the end, Serena busted her racquet, called Mr. Ramos a “thief,” and received three penalties, including the loss of a game, from Mr. Ramos. She later was fined $17,000.

The question is still open as to who eventually would have won had Serena been given a fair chance.

Ms. Osaka knew that what happened to Serena was not right and, through her own tears, showed that she recognized her victory isn’t the victory she had hoped for in the way it came about.

Serena is definitely our sister, and no matter what, she has proven to be an awesome sister. She acknowledged Ms. Osaka’s victory, and though unhappy about how it came about, she hugged her and congratulated her.

Serena is still the queen of tennis for those of us who love and admire her.

We are blessed to have many African-American women making us proud, including Stacey Abrams, the Democratic candidate for governor of Georgia, and others.

The haters can do their thing in trying to belittle Serena, but we celebrate her for her entire history of bringing us victories. Say what you will about her calling out the chair umpire and throwing down her racquet, she’s still the best.

Her male counterparts have done worse and were never punished. I write this message to ask that we not engage in the criticism others are leveling against Serena. What she did was normal.

Sure, she was upset about the call against her. Any one of us would have responded the same way. Let’s protect and defend her legacy and never allow anyone to destroy it or the legacy of any black woman who is achieving so highly. Serena is, after all, a 23-time Grand Slam champion!

As for that stupid cartoonist who drew the racist image of Serena, put him in the category of #45. He just doesn’t know real beauty when he sees it. He knew what he was doing and no explanation Mark Knight gives is acceptable.

One can assume he thinks because #45 tries to denigrate everybody he doesn’t like, he can do the same. Fortunately, people around the world have condemned him and we should condemn him. Let him know that Serena is talented and beautiful and his opinion does not matter.

Thanks to former tennis champion Billie Jean King and others, the pushback on Mr. Knight’s racist depiction of Serena came immediately, as well as on the matter of the harsh penalty given to her by the umpire.

Certain umpires are considering a boycott of some of Serena’s matches. I don’t think that threat will break Serena. Umpires are expected to be non-partisan. This threat alone shows their bias against Serena. That’s why I see it as our responsibility to stand up for Serena even as we celebrate another young black woman being the victor from the chaos.

The writer is the national president of the National Congress of Black Women.