US tennis star feels some people don’t want Black players to succeed
NEW YORK (Reuters) – Some people don’t want African Americans to ever win the Grand Slam singles title at the U.S. Open, and that has affected her love for the sport, says former world No. 1 tennis player Marion Bartoli.
Bartoli, who is now a coach for the Atlanta Braves baseball team, spoke at a news conference on Wednesday alongside African-American tennis star Serena Williams, who was also at the news conference.
“I had to make sure we played the same game, that we played with no fear or anything,” said Bartoli, who took over from fellow African-American Billie Jean King when she was fired by her own team in 2012.
“It’s a shame, because that’s the thing that people in America have been screaming for when the opportunity comes, and it’s our opportunity to win this thing. But we have to do it within the context of this. Everyone who has won it in the past has done it the right way.”
Her comments are among an emerging debate about the growing racial divide in U.S. sports, one that she says is now affecting the conversation about who should or shouldn’t play on the Grand Slam stage.
“I’d like it to be about us… because the history is we’re all one; we are all African-American,” she said. “But I think it’s starting to break down. And it hurts me because I love tennis, and I love the Olympics, and I love baseball, and I love the NFL, and I love basketball.
“I think it is being affected by the way society has changed, and a lot of people are leaving sports because they don’t want to be portrayed as the minority in sport anymore, and I think that hurts us at the top, too. You have to have respect everywhere you go.”
King was the first African-American female world No. 1 since Billie Jean King won the singles title at the 1969 French Open, and won 25 career Grand Slam singles titles.
Williams, who will be the first African-American woman to win a major singles championship when she returns to the U.S. Open this week, is an active role model for her two young daughters.
She has been praised for her charity work