A tennis coach’s up-by-the-bootstraps memoir about his life and the impact his upbringing had in shaping his tennis superstar daughters Venus and Serena Williams. The book was co-authored by Davis (The Woman Who Can't Forget, 2009, etc.).
The author grew up the son of a single mother and an absentee father with “a terrible reputation for living off women and having babies all over” his then-segregated hometown of Shreveport, La. His mother taught him the importance of remaining peaceful and tolerant in the face of discrimination. But Williams openly questioned the too-accepting attitudes he saw in the African-American community and became an angry, rebellious teenager who learned how to make a profit out of goods he stole from whites. Seeking to escape the violence and racism he saw around him, Williams traveled to Chicago. He continued to prosper but also saw that even successful blacks were resigned to the fact that they “could never have as much as white people.” His next destination was Southern California, where he finally found the opportunities he needed to develop his formidable skills as a businessman and entrepreneur. When Williams accidentally discovered how profitable tennis could be as a profession, he decided to not only learn the game, but also teach it to the unborn daughters he believed would one day be at “the forefront of a white-dominated game.” He read books, talked to experts, watched videos and played in the broken-down courts of South Central Los Angeles. Others scoffed at his plans, which included moving his family from Long Beach to the ghettos of Compton to toughen up the two daughters he eventually had. Williams had the last laugh when both girls went on to become two of the most winning and respected tennis players in the world. Inspiring and tough-minded, Williams’ book is above all a celebration of one man’s resilient, unorthodox spirit.
Upfront and unapologetic.