CNN interviewed Serena Williams when she was 9. Here’s what she said about her father.
On May 7, 1996, Serena Williams, right, was 9. The New York Times Magazine profiled her on the occasion of the then 19-year-old Williams’ debut in the U.S. Open singles competition, and she answered questions from reporters.
The topic: her father, Bill Williams, a former American All-Star golf player, basketballer and then tennis star. The interviewer asked what it was like to have a father who was a basketball player and tennis and a golfer, then a professional tennis player.
Serena Williams began by saying she didn’t know much about her father, which meant she didn’t know much about his profession. But she did know that he was tall, 6-foot-2, and built more like a basketball player than a tennis player.
She said he played in the NBA for eight years and had many injuries.
“He would go out there and play hurt, and he would play through pain and come back and win,” she said. “I’m like, ‘Wow, he can do that.’ And then I would watch his back. He would go into the locker room and take the pain away so he could play well.”
Her father was a great player, she said, and she appreciated that. She also admired his attitude and his confidence.
“He had a unique, confident attitude, and you could play as hard as you wanted and still be comfortable,” she said. “But I do respect his ability to have a calm and confident attitude with his players in that locker room.”
Bill Williams said he wanted to see his son play college tennis but Serena was ineligible because she was on the cover of Cosmopolitan magazine. He said he didn’t see the sense of her being on the magazine if she would want to be in the locker room. “It was the worst thing that could have happened,” he said.
Serena Williams said Bill knew about what she was going to be when she was born.
“Of course he knew,” she said. “I was born on May 6. I know he was not surprised by any of that