Friday, November 10, 2006

Serena Williams: Humanitarian

My girl has taken more shit than a compost heap. From pundits, fans, former champions, and Florida circuit court judges alike. “Serena is wasting her talent, Serena should be more focused on tennis, Serena is too distracted by outside interests, Serena is washed-up, Serena should retire, Serena has no respect for the sport or for her fans...” echoes the chorus of fools. As though anyone knows what anyone else should be doing with her life. Yet, while this year’s top women tennis players are battling out the Season Ending Championships in Madrid, Serena isn’t in Tinsel Town or on the beach. She’s in Africa on a five-day humanitarian visit organized by the United Nations. And yet, nary a peep of this has been covered in the tennis press. Tim Ryan and Tracy Austin, commentators on the Versus telecast of the Championships, haven’t said a single word.

According to the Associated Press:

“The U.N. said in a statement that Williams’ was hoping to see how young Senegalese, particularly girls, are progressing in relation to the U.N.’s Millennium Development Goals, which include cutting extreme poverty by half, ensuring that all people have access to clean water and sanitation, and universal primary education — all by 2015.

“Williams was invited to Senegal by the U.N. Office of Sport for Development and Peace in New York, where she attended the first U.N. Global Youth Leadership Summit on Monday.

“The tennis star will meet women and children working on anti-poverty projects, talk with President Abdoulaye Wade and conduct tennis demonstrations, the statement said. She'll also tour U.N. development projects in the country and visit Goree Island, from where countless Africans were shipped across the Atlantic Ocean to the Americas as slaves centuries ago.

“Though tennis courts exist in Senegal, the sport is not popular among young people, most of whom prefer soccer.”

Tennis player Serena Williams (L), United Nations (UN) Director of Sport for Development and Peace Djibril Diallo (2nd L), President of Senegal Abdoulaye Wade (3rd L), an unidentified translator and M.L. Mittal (R), founder of the GIta-Mohan Mittal Foundation, participate in a news conference on the UN Global Youth Leadership Summit, at the United Nations headquarters in New York October 30, 2006.

Prior to her travels to Africa:

“Williams joined Senegal’s President Abdoulaye Wade and others at a U.N. press conference to promote the first U.N. Global Youth Leadership Summit.

“The meeting began last Sunday and brought together two representatives from each of the 192 member U.N. states—young man and a woman between the ages of 18 and 30—to discuss helping the organization achieve its Millennium Development Goals.

“The goals include cutting extreme poverty by half, ensuring that all people have access to clean water and sanitation, and universal primary education—all by 2015.

“Serena said that, as a member of the next generation of leaders, it was important for her to speak in support of the summit. ‘Now is the time to realize that we’re here, this is our generation, and we can make a statement and we can fight different diseases and we can fight poverty and we beat this.’ ”

Before Senegal, Serena stopped in Ghana earlier in the week. For an excellent article covering the Ghana trip, click here:

Read Serena’s blog about Africa here:


scully said...

Craig, that was such a great blog about Ree. YOu touched on everything I would have love to say, but only you a much better than I do.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for your true and kind words about the heart and beauty of Serena Williams. She is an icon in every way. True greats get the most hate, so the hate she receives just proves she's already one of the greats.

Craig Hickman said...

Thank you, scully.

And anonymous: Say it Again!!!

Khan said...

I found your blog by accident and I'm happy to discover your blog and I agree with scully on the comments that he made.

Keep up with a good work !!

Craig Hickman said...

Thanks you, khan.

Care to share how you stumbled upon it?

2Crazy4Help said...

Hey Craig. Cool Blog.

Anonymous said...

Hey Craig, you are so right. I am not surprise at all that not much is being said about it in the tennis world. Nonetheless, as true fans will give her the support and cheers that she truly deserves. Thanks for the write up. Oh, by the way, Serena is my favourite female tennis player and Roddick is my favourite male tennis player.

Anonymous said...

Great read, thanks for drawing attention to the fantastic job serena is doing.

Ravin' Ray said...

Y'know what, Craig? It's these kids, more than anyone else, who can provide the real inspiration for Serena (and Venus as well) to go out there and give their whole heart to the game and in the process inspire others in turn. Serena received from these kids as much as she gave.

Anonymous said...

Well said Craig great read.

Seren4_ever said...

great reading!!!!!love it.. ;)

Anonymous said...

Beautiful pictures of Serena and the kids, wonderful articles and comments. Can't add anything better. Thanks you all!


Anonymous said...

maybe this didn't get a lot of press, but in all fairness, does any of the other top tennis charitable endeavors get a lot of press as well?

Craig Hickman said...

Anonymous, did you see all the press Federer got when he was in India recently playing cricket with the child Tsunami survivors?

The answer is yes. Other players with star power get all kinds of media attention for their humanitarian efforts. The example I cited is only one.

But Andy Roddick, Justine Henin-Hardenne, Kim Clijsters, the list goes on...