07 September, 2014

The Unlikely Lass


Vegas wouldn't take this bet, Judge Judy would've interrupted and asked the plaintiffs to cut the baloney, Disney wouldn't option this screenplay.

It's too much to believe that tennis was blessed with Serena Williams.

Chris Evert, the sun-kissed, ponytailed, ice maiden, golden girl daughter of a longtime tennis coach, we'd buy that one.

Martina Navratilova, the workhorse who defected from behind the iron curtain and was as responsible as anyone for upping the game's physical ante, we can buy that one too.

For as incredible as both those champions were, there stories somehow seem to fit within the acceptable (read: believable) narrative for tennis stars.

Serena Williams though, the woman who just matched the two aforementioned American legends with her 18th major singles title today...well, I guess her truth is stranger than any fiction we'd deem credible.

Imagine pitching this script...


Let's start with the characters. The lead, this "Serena Williams" is a world-beating athlete whose game was largely architected by a father who was a neophyte to his daughter's chosen sport. Yes, others contribute, Rick Macci makes a key cameo in flashback scenes when she's a youngster and Patrick Mouratoglou shows up in some latter day scenes, but by and large, Serena Williams' game was built by her father Richard.

Serena's firebrand of a dad is a maverick in every sense of the word. He'd almost be a caricature with his outsized personality and penchant for calling it as he sees it, feasibility be damned..if he wasn't also right. At one point this guy looks straight into the camera and tells us that his daughters are going to be No. 1 and No. 2 in the world someday.  Everyone looks at him like he's crazy, eventually he's hailed as all but a prophet. He ends up going down as the coach of two players who earned more than 40 major titles. Credit where credit's due, those numbers are right up there with newly minted Hall of Famer Nick Bollettieri. Oh yeah, this Serena Williams has a big sister named Venus. The girl with whom Serena shares a bedroom with in the flashback scenes becomes a four-time Olympic gold medalist too. Oh, and a five-time Wimbledon singles champion and slam dunk tennis hall of famer too.



Oh, and the backstory. Serena's an African-American girl raised in one of America's most notorious concrete jungles, Compton, California who, over the course of the proceedings, transforms into the belle of the ball on the ivy covered Centre Court at the All England Club. You buying any of this yet?

This Serena Williams wins her first major at 17 years old. She'll beat the defending champion and World No. 2, Lindsay Davenport in the semis then beat the World No. 1 in the final, Martina Hingis in the final, earning a measure of revenge as Hingis had just beaten her sister in the semis. 

Along the way, this Serena Williams will win the career grand slam (beating her big sister in all four legs), lose another sister caught in the crossfire of gang violence, date a big-time rapper, date a big-time director, become a (mediocre) actress, sell clothes on the Home Shopping Network, become a nail technician, land multiple eight figure endorsement contracts, almost lose her life to a pulmonary embolism at the height of her powers and ultimately match America's most legendary tennis titans with an 18th major title a full 15 years after claiming her first.  So, what do you think?

There's only one possible response..."Got another story kid? No one's gonna believe that yarn."


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