Venus and Serena Williams returned to their hometown of Compton, California, as planned over the weekend to cement plans for their violence victim center and attend a dedication of tennis courts in their honor.
According to The Los Angeles Times, the tennis pros were in town Nov. 11-12 to finalize plans for the Yetunde Price Resource Center, named after their late oldest sister who died by gang gunfire in 2003.
Serena told the newspaper it was important to remember their sibling, who was killed at age 31.
“We definitely wanted to honor our sister’s memory because she was a great sister,” Serena said. “She was our oldest sister and obviously she meant a lot to us. And it meant a lot to us, to myself and to Venus and my other sisters as well – Isha and Lyndrea – that we’ve been wanting to do something for years in memory of her, especially the way it happened, a violent crime.”
The Williams sisters reflected on the support their family gave Price’s children at the time of her death and how that support led to the decision to provide other victims of violence with a similar resource. Thus, the Yetunde Price Resource Center was born. It is set to open in December, with funding via a five-year donation from the newly minted Williams Sisters Fund.
“This is going to be not just an exchange of information but a sustained, deep relationship,” the center’s chief operating officer, Sharoni Little, told the LA Times. “It will be relational. There will be follow-up. There will be not just passing on a card or a flyer but actually making those connections and relationships. And we obviously know it will grow because of the need.”
Little estimated the center will serve at least 50 people monthly.
However, the resource center was not the only thing that brought Venus and Serena to Compton, though they said they have made quiet visits home in the past. The city held a ceremony to dedicate two refurbished tennis courts named in their honor.
The Venus and Serena Williams Court of Champions is located in Lueders Park, close to where the famous siblings grew up. But the designation means more than just a tribute to them.
“To have the tennis court refurbished, to make sure that there’s coaching available, to make sure that these programs go on,” Venus told ABC News. “And to make sure that this sport stays here in our community, it’s a big part of bringing us all up and creating positivity for young people.”
The sisters’ impact has reached older fans as well. Thelma LeBeauf, 84, of Los Angeles credited the Williams sisters for making tennis fans of Black people.
“At that time, Black people, we weren’t into tennis,” LeBeauf said. “I’ve learned from watching them. I like the style they play.”