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Serena, Venus, Richard, Barbara and Me

Here is my Serena ( and Venus) story. Many years ago, literally decades ago, a friend asked me to buy four tickets for a new tennis tournament that was going to be somewhere up in the Del Ray area at a new condominium development. I really cannot remember any of the details except that because this was a brand new event, tickets were cheap and I could have my pick of location. I do not know for sure, but I could have been among the first five or ten season ticket holders, literally on the ground floor.

I chose four seats in the first row right behind where the players sit on the changeover. As the tournament grew bigger, becoming the Lipton and moving to Key Biscayne, I kept my same tickets. The tournament became really big and is now, I believe, called the Miami Open and is at Hard Rock.

The original tickets I got almost for nothing have become really valuable. Arguably, there were no better seats in the whole stadium until the tournament moved to its present location where my seats would have cost some six figure amount per year.

Before that, with my seats right behind the players, we could talk to them and hear everything they said. Often a player’s coach would ask if they could sit in our box. One of those coaches was Richard Williams, the Father and coach for Serena and Venus.

We spent a lot of time talking to him and listening to him talk to his daughters at changeovers, which was not exactly cricket. However, they had a way of communicating and got away with it.

The Father told us, without reservation or hesitation, that we should not doubt his girls would become the best in the world. He groomed them from a very early age, never rushing their progress. He did not want any young wonders who would burnout in a few years. Williams knew, without doubt, that his game plan for his daughters would result in their being world champions for a long, long time.

While they were playing, Williams would critique every little thing. It was fascinating watching and listening to him. And, of course, he was very nice to us because were were letting him sit in our box.

So the end of Serena’s career on Friday night was also a kind of passage for Barbara-and me. We saw the Williams sisters play many, many times, and at every major except the Australian, where we have never been.

The end of my Serena story.

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