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Monday, April 03, 2006

Will the Williams sisters teach us a lesson?


Is there a lesson for all of us in the great debate on the tennis court over Serena and Venus Williams. The tennis superstar sisters withdrew from the NASDAQ-100 Open in Key Biscayne, Serena saying she is not match fit and Venus with an elbow injury.
It seems tennis experts have some harsh criticism for Serena's interest in acting and designing clothes and attribute it to the reason she is not "matchfit." Chris Evert's strongly worded letter in Tennis Magazine pleads with Serena to take tennis more seriously.
"In the short-term, you may be happy with the various things going on in your life, but I wonder whether 20 years from now you might reflect on your career and regret not putting 100 percent of yourself into tennis.'' she writes. ``I don't see how acting and designing clothes can compare with the pride of being the best tennis player in the world,''
My colleague Amy Sherman made a good point when compares Serena with the rest of us working stiffs. Sherman wonders: "If you are really successful in your career, is it still not safe to put all your eggs into one basket? Should regular folks (and athletes) make sure they have lots of different skills and interests -- and a personal life -- just in case?
Clearly, some male athletes who never seemed to do anything but their sport sometimes fall into trouble once they retire....various problems in their personal relationships and family life. Perhaps it is because they never developed into well rounded people?
Are the Williams sisters actually a great example for regular working stiffs? Remember, Serena and Venus did not chose to take up tennas as little girls. It was their father, Richard, who saw the dollar signs and pushed them into the sport.
``Serena has a gift, and she's not utilizing it,'' said Martina Navratilova who will turn 50 in the fall but hasn't lost her love of playing or winning.''
Is it so wrong for the girls to want more in their lives than tennis after more than 20 years of practicing and competing? Is it so wrong to love tennis -- and acting and fashion design.
There may be some truth in the recent criticism that athletes cannot be dabblers, which is what Serena and Venus have become. But these girls see a life for themselves balanced out by other interests. Maybe they don't want to spend the next 25 years in one career. Are they doing anything the rest of us haven't pondered ourselves?

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