In wake of the Williams sisters’ historic meeting in the Australian Open, Fox Sports One commentator Shannon Sharpe reflected on Venus and Serena Williams‘ impact on the Black community.
During the Friday, Jan. 27 telecast of “Undisputed,” Sharpe said that the Williams sisters are beloved in the Black community because they did not abandon their Blackness.
“Let’s be 1,000 percent clear here. Tennis is a white country club sport. You get two African-American young ladies from Compton, California, that did not go to the Bollettieri Academy in Florida. They didn’t go to one of these elite schools for tennis,” Sharpe says. “… [Their parents] taught their daughters how to play tennis in Compton, California, on a tennis court where the grass is growing through the concrete. They’ve always embraced who they were and how they came to be. They’ve always embraced being Black and they were never ashamed of being Black.”
Sharpe pointed out that there have been Black athletes like footballer O.J. Simpson, golfer Tiger Woods and — he also brought up music icon Michael Jackson — who did not embrace being Black. He insisted, however, that when trouble and controversy arose, Black people embraced Simpson and Woods despite being abandoned and brushed to the side.
“When they had their controversy, who was the race of people that embraced them?” Sharpe asks. “When Michael Jackson went through what he went through, who were the race of people that embraced him? When Tiger Woods had his controversy, when sponsors were running away from him, the African-American community embraced Tiger. The very people he said that he resented being labeled as are the people that loved him even though.”
He went on to say that the Williams sisters are sacred in the Black community because they did not forget where they came from.
They were from Compton and Venus and Serena did not let people forget it. Unlike the other celebrities he mentioned, “They always embraced who they were,” he said. “They’re the greatest siblings to ever live.”