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"It was people calling my sisters ‘monkeys’, or saying they shouldn’t be playing tennis at all"- Isha Price on racism towards young Venus and Serena Williams

Venus (left) and Serena Williams
Venus (left) and Serena Williams
Gauri Awasthi
ANALYST

Venus and Serena Williams's sister Isha Price recently spoke to The Telegraph ahead of the release of Richard Williams's biopic King Richard. She shed light on how her sisters' rise in the tennis world was not easy, especially while dealing with racism.

Price recalled a time in 1997 when, as an undergraduate, she would return home to stacks of unopened mail. She revealed that some of these were hateful messages for the Williams sisters, who had just begun to make their mark on the sport.

"I remember being an undergrad in 1997,” said Isha Price. “I would come home to Palm Beach in the holidays and find stacks of unopened mail. When I went through it, there would be requests for photos and stuff, but at least a third of it was hate mail."

Isha Price further described the kind of racist remarks that were directed towards young Venus and Serena Williams in the mail. She revealed that as a family they decided against telling the sisters about it and urged them not to read the newspapers or the mail. The family wanted the sisters to "speak with their rackets."

“It was people calling my sisters 'monkeys,' or saying that they shouldn’t be playing tennis at all – ‘go play basketball instead’. As a family, we didn’t want them to hear that. So we started telling them, ‘Do not read the papers, do not read your own fan mail, just focus on your game, speak with your racket, show passion in what you do."

"Serena had more friends on the tour, she was a lot freer because Venus took the hit": Isha Price

Venus and Serena Williams at the 1999 US Open
Venus and Serena Williams at the 1999 US Open

Isha Price proceeded to highlight that it was Venus, being the elder sister, who was on the receiving end of much of the racist abuse. She asserted that the seven-time Grand Slam winner, as a result, had become "stoic" and developed a reserved demeanor on court.

Price believes that Serena Williams became freer and more expressive of her emotions on court because Venus Williams "took the hit".

"Venus took the hit for a lot of that stuff,” Isha Price continued. “Which is one of the reasons why she became so stoic on court and showed a lot less emotion. But her doing that allowed Serena to be expressive and emotive, to be her whole self. Serena had more friends on the tour. She was a lot freer because Venus took the hit.”

King Richard is currently showing in theaters across the US, UK and Canada.

Watch the trailer here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BKP_0z52ZAw


Edited by Sarbajaya Bhattacharya
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