The Tennis Space: People of Influence:
Number 6: Serena and Venus Williams
Sphere of influence: Women’s tennis, Oscar parties, television shopping networks, popular culture.
The old joke is that the WTA stands for the Williams Tennis Association. Individually, the Williams sisters have great influence and hold over the women’s game. Together, they ara powerful force: they have transformed how the sport is played, and have changed perceptions, which is why their father Richard calls them ‘the ghetto Cinderellas of the lily-white tennis world’. Serena is the more influential of the two. Her force of personality has got her into trouble in the past – see previous US Opens, and her verbally threatening behaviour towards a lineswoman and an umpire. And she talks some nonsense (“I absolutely hate farts,” she declared on Twitter the other day, for those who were wondering about where she stood on flatulence).
But she is rarely ignored. When Venus retires, women’s tennis will miss her. But when Serena goes, that will be harder day for the tennis industry. Whether she is talking nail polish, forehands or flatulence, Serena has a view, which she will share with her 2.5 million followers on Twitter.
What’s next: Trying to win gold in the women’s doubles at the London Olympics. Pushing sales of her designs on TV. Attempting to bag more slams.