Serena Williams Trys Her Hand At Writing… and Mainly Suceeds
I went through all the different motions when Serena announced she was putting pen to paper, (or someone else’s pen to paper), and producing a ‘set of memoirs’. I was at first excited. Excited because I am obsessed with the world of tennis, I am a reluctant Serena Williams fan, and I am a self proclaimed book worm. Then Serena Williams discovered Twitter. What followed was a series of shameless self promoting tweets from, ‘does anyone know the title of my new book?’, to reminding us on the release date of her book, to just plain advertising. I swore I would never read it.
A a month or so later I went back on my word. Browsing Borders due to a lack of things to do, I stumbled across Serena’s book, strangely titled ‘Queen of the Court’ in New Zealand. Why they changed the title I have no idea, but I flicked through and yes it was the same book she had promoted endlessly building up to it’s release. I checked the Borders’ price tag, and hurried down to Whitcoulls to buy it.
I do not regret it. Serena’s book is an easy and interesting read, with an in depth view on the tennis events that have shaped her life, small and large. Her childhood was particulary fascinating to read about. No matter what you think of Serena, her stories from playing on the cracked asphalt courts of Compton with flat tennis balls, progressing through to entering her first tournament against her father’s will, to the Indian Wells controversy and her first Grand Slam, are all mesmerising and entertaining for any tennis fan. Not to mention brave, Serena is very honest and open in her book. Many times I thought back to this years US Open controversy and feel that, although the book was written before that, I have gained better insight into why she acted so.
Serena’s book also put her father in a very positive light. I have always had utmost respect for the Williams family, but now I feel I have the facts to back up my ‘Richard was not a bad tennis parent’ claims. I also feel like I understand her reasons behind her decision to never play Indian Wells again, (no point in asking, she won’t EVER play there again). It is as if Serena knew exactly what we wondered about her, and set her mind to telling it.
Technically, Serena dedicates a chapter to her relationship with Venus, but really, the whole book centres around it. I even got a little emotional when she admited that without Venus she doubts she would have won as many Slams. Most people assume she would have won more, but Serena makes it clear that her admiration and, at times, jealousy of Venus pushed her to accomplish all she could.
She mentions other players, but you only get a slight feeling for whom she admires and likes. She had nothing but warm words for Kim Clijsters, her opponent in that infamous Indian Wells match. Serena also seems to have a soft spot for Daniela Hantuchova, exclaiming she has the most fantastic legs. She has a lot of admiration for Roger Federer, mentioning him several times during the US Open 08 part of the book, calling him really funny and openly supporting him. If I wasn’t won over by the passion and honesty of Serena by this point, her kind words of Roger propelled me from reluctant fan to proud fan.
Serena’s book isn’t perfect, but it is honest and absorbing, especially her views on her body image. I imagine her editor reigned in as much as the preaching as he could, as I found her comments on her faith did not annoy me quite as much as I was expecting. I would have liked more thoughts and feelings from her first Slam win, and I thought the Indian Wells chapter was in an odd place chronologically. As a tennis fan I would have loved more game analysis, but I know that that wouldn’t appeal to the general public and this is a book that doesn’t want to be exclusively for fans.
It is lovely to read an autobiography, (sorry, Serena, but that is what it is, whether it is yout last or not), by an active player. I would highly recommend it to all tennis people, no matter how they feel about Serena. Whether they suceeded in appealing to the masses I have no idea, perhaps someone a little less emotionally invested in tennis could let me know.
Overall an absorbing read and a must for all tennis fans.