We will constantly know Serena Williams initial and foremost as a tennis participant, the best there has at any time been. But at about the very same time she introduced herself to the sports activities entire world by winning the 1999 U.S. Open up at 17, she also commenced a life of really community social activism, one particular that stands in sharp contrast to that of another athletics superstar, 1 who happened to be in her box Wednesday evening, cheering her on.
The yr was 2000, a lengthy time ago, very long sufficient to have overlooked the story. The topic was the Confederate flag, which was continue to flying around the South Carolina statehouse 135 many years following the close of the Civil War. Athletes were getting requested about the flag, particularly athletes with occasions in the state. In other terms, golfers and tennis gamers.
Tiger Woods was 24 in April 2000. He had just concluded his remaining spherical of that year’s Masters when a question about the state flag came his way, which was fitting for the reason that the PGA Tour’s future cease was the MCI Traditional at Hilton Head Island, South Carolina.
“Are you playing in South Carolina this week at all? Tomorrow?”
Tiger: “No, I am not.”
Q: “Are you acquainted with the flag concern?”
Q: “Have you been contacted by the NAACP (which had termed for a tourism boycott of the point out), and do you have any remark on that?”
Q: “Is that why you are not actively playing there?”
A: “No. I’m heading dwelling. I have had a great operate up to this week, and now it is time for me to take a small split.”
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It was a awful instant for Tiger that seems even worse 22 yrs later on. Specified each chance to stand up for thousands and thousands of Black folks who have under no circumstances had the system he has, specified each and every prospect to perhaps transform a racist condition coverage with one thoroughly picked out sentence considering how significant the golf marketplace was and is to the condition, Tiger took a move.
As he informed Sports activities Illustrated just before the Masters: “I am a golfer. That’s their offer, you know?”
Not incredibly, Tiger was supplied the profit of the question from an fully sympathetic and generally sycophantic golfing press corps. He’s so young, they stated. He’s only 24. Give him a break.
There was just just one problem with the “he’s so young” justification: another person virtually 6 many years young, an 18-calendar year-aged tennis participant named Serena Williams, resolved at the exact time to not perform in the Relatives Circle Cup tennis match in Hilton Head, supporting the NAACP’s boycott phone.
“My selection to not enjoy in South Carolina was dependent on a a lot further situation and 1 that I sense strongly about,” Williams, then the sixth-ranked participant in the earth, claimed at the time.
“I wouldn’t go … until the flag was eliminated,” she recalled in 2015, the yr the flag last but not least arrived down. “Once it was, I went there, and only just after the Confederate flag was eliminated.”
All these years afterwards, Serena and Tiger have grow to be expensive close friends. Most likely they never try to remember what the other said throughout all those times 22 yrs in the past. Potentially they do and do not care.
But it transpired, and it was a launching pad, in a way, for both of those of them. Serena, and her sister Venus, have gone on to lives battling for leads to ranging from aid for racial justice and doing the job moms to equivalent shell out for women, which includes tennis players. Tiger, toeing the conservative line the extensive bulk of male golfers select, has stayed silent on practically just about every essential social problem of the day, despite the fact that he did take a strong stand just lately in opposition to the blood income of Saudi LIV Golf.
Back when they were youthful, and it mattered, they produced their choices. Tiger went on getaway. Serena went to function.
This post initially appeared on United states of america Currently: Serena Williams, Tiger Woods created diverse choices when it mattered