Tennis Prose



When Hingis Said There’s No Racism in Tennis and Being Black Helps The Williams

Back in 2001 after the Indian Wells incident, where the crowd booed the Williams family for suspecting a family fix was in play when Venus withdrew from her semifinal vs Clijsters shortly before the match was about to be played, stiffing the public who paid top dollar for their tickets.

Allegations of racism were charged against the white fans who booed the Williams family. But WTA world no. 1 at the time Martina Hingis bravely asserted in her Miami Open press conference that being black was actually an advantage for the Williams sisters…

Q. Does that bother you that the father did claim that there was a lot of racism directed to his family at Indian Wells?

MARTINA HINGIS: I wasn’t there. I didn’t see the finals, just heard about it and it was on TV obviously. But I definitely don’t feel like it, that there is any racism on the Tour. I mean it’s a very international sport, and I even would say because, you know, they may be black they have a lot of other – how do you say – advantages to be, you know, where they are because they can always say it’s racism or something like that, and it’s not the case at all. Not from my standpoint. I don’t care who, you know, who’s on the other side, who I have to play, and I treat them with — definitely with respect. It’s a professional sport, and I mean they’re good for the sport. I like the girls. Maybe, it’s sometimes — he has said things which are not true, but I don’t — I don’t know about what the girls think about what he says, so it’s hard to say.

Q. Did you read the story that came out today?

MARTINA HINGIS: Yeah, I saw it. I mean obviously it’s part of my job to read things like that, and it’s — because like today, I know I am going to be asked about it so I should know. And, yeah, I think it’s total nonsense to me.


That very same day Serena was asked by the Miami press if she had ever heard any racist comments while she was on court…

Q. Have you heard any similar (racial) comments yourself while playing tennis on the court?

SERENA WILLIAMS: Let’s see… Let me think about it. I don’t know. I don’t know. I can’t remember. I don’t know.


  • Dan Markowitz · October 4, 2018 at 10:50 am

    I’m not quite sure what you’re trying to say here, Scoop. Are you against Serena because she’s black, or because she makes false (in your opinion) accusations of racism or because she thrashed for the most part, Hingis?

    I’ll never forget a quote Arthur Ashe gave to me for an article I wrote about racism for The New York Times in 1991. Here is the paragraph the quote was in:

    “Arthur Ashe, the former Wimbledon and United States Open champion, said that administrators of the United States Tennis Association, whose mandate it is to promote the game and develop young talent, held “a latent fear” of black players’ potential. “They’re worried that if we made our mark, we’d take over the sport,” Ashe said. “They’re worried that we’d start producing tennis players like we have basketball players.”

    I still think many people and maybe even the USTA has a latent fear of black people taking over tennis. It’s basically happened in the United States with women players like the Williams sisters, Stephens, Keys and Osaka all being black.

    Look, black people aren’t supposed to be good at tennis because it takes a lot of mental acuity that some people feel black people don’t have–or that’s the stereotype or the prejudice. The Bryan Brothers never played each other in junior tournaments; one of them would drop out. I’m sure no one in Southern California where they grew up was up in arms over their decision. Why did the people in Indian Wells get so bent out of shape when Venus pulled out?

  • Scoop Malinowski · October 4, 2018 at 11:10 am

    That’s quite a heavy assumption that whites fear blacks taking over tennis. That is typical media manipulation and division tactics to say that. I think it’s total hogwash. Remember what Jimmy Arias told you when asked if he ever saw or experienced racism in tennis – nothing of note. The US Open crowd cheered Monfils to beat Isner. The point is Hingis said back in 2001 racism in tennis is total BS. Serena could name no examples then and since then she has never mentioned any examples. Tennis is not a racist sport and it never was. I see people saying things on twitter and IG about tennis being a racist sport, that is FALSE. I was told the USTA had the chance to support Osaka when she was a teen but rejected her. Wonder why.

  • George · October 4, 2018 at 1:55 pm

    Racism and stereotypes exist for a reason. However, what’s inside a person can make others color blind. In my youth, every single white kid who played basketball wanted to be Michael Jordan.

    Serena will never be Michael Jordan, although she has won more than any other female. She does not one tenth of the charisma that Jordan had. It has nothing to so with her being black.

    By the way, the USTA invested a lot of money in Tiafoe, so I would think they are color blind as well.

  • Scoop Malinowski · October 4, 2018 at 3:13 pm

    George, as one tennis insider told me, the USTA desperately wants to create the next Serena. I am told they had a chance to support Osaka and convert her to American but they were not impressed by her talents and performance and passed on her.

  • Dan Markowitz · October 5, 2018 at 9:23 am

    I think the USTA wanted to create the next Arthur Ashe too. What a role model Ashe was, and I’m talking about only as a tennis pro, not all the activist things he did off the court. That’s why when Yannick Noah came around there was such optimism because the story was that Ashe discovered Noah in Africa.

    In the late-80’s I worked for the Reebok Academy as a pro out at the US Open and all the kids in that academy were inner-city kids who were on scholarship. Only Alex Roberman, not a kid of color, but a Russian immigrant from Brooklyn, ever made it briefly into the pro ranks from that program.

    There was a lot of optimism when Levar Harper-Griffith also from Brooklyn and black emerged, but he never climbed high in the rankings. Arthur Ashe, Serena Williams, you can’t–or its extremely hard–build a player like those two. I mean their stories are so far-fetched, Ashe’s mother died early and a pro in a Richmond park discovering the young Arthur taught him the game and then he was taken in by a doctor who was running a camp for young black players.

    Serena’s father decided to teach his two daughters the game after never having played himself. I mean you can’t duplicate Ashe and Serena. They’re freaks.

  • Scoop Malinowski · October 5, 2018 at 10:05 am

    Not sure why the male Serena has not emerged in the last ten years, there certainly has been a big push to create this player. Clearly the USTA would like to create a super champion of color. Young, Tim Neilly, Levar Harper Griffith, the Jenkins clan, now Eubanks, Mmoh, Evan King, Tiafoe… Serena has paved the way and shown it can be done. I think James Blake doesn’t get enough respect for his accomplishments, 4 in the world, Masters Cup final, Davis Cup heroics, ten ATP titles, in a very tough era. Yes, Serena is a different animal, a one in a trillion champion, on par with Jordan, Federer, Nadal, Djokovic, Ali, Ray Leonard, Ray Robinson, Carl Lewis, Navratilova, Graf, JJK.



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