By Ori Martins
It was my late indefatigable publisher and employer, Prince Emeka Obasi, the Hallmark man, that influenced my close following of Serena Williams.
Then, he would ask me, in his deeply but sing song voice: Ori Martins, which day is Serena playing? If he did not watch the game, he would eventually revert to me: ‘Ori Martins, did Serena win?’
Before the begining of of the US Open, Australia Open, Wimbledon Grand Slam or any other tennis championship, Obasi would beckon on me: Ori Martins, will Serena win? In fact, Obasi told me “if I were anywhere close to Serena Williams I would have married her!”
There were two Williams’ sisters and I usually found it extremely difficult to distinguish one from the other, though they are not twins. Just like the Ezinwa brothers of the sprint fame, I only relied on what the AFP photographers presented as Serena Williams and Venus Williams. Most times, local photographers, sports editors and production editors got confused about their photos.
However, I later discovered that one attracted the attention of the men than the other. I also came to the realization that one appeared more sexy, more sarcastic, more stylish, more beautiful and, more glorious, in fact, lured more men to the courts than the other. Yes. One of the Williams is a real African through and through – ebony looking with power packed her hands and legs.
Yet, that was not the cynosure of all eyes. Sensationally, the point of reflection is that Serena’s Manchester United (boobs), Arsenal (hips) and even Chelsea (laps) were carefully exploited and explored by her in the court. A master of hedge, Serena, when on top of her game, would consciously delay her service for seconds while allowing the internationally experienced and widely exposed cameramen to capture her naturally endowed dangling twin towers, or well packaged and admirable backside to wriggle to the admiration of the spectators, particularly the men, whether watching live or viewing from the screen. Sometimes, Serena would bend low, graciously calculating on the next trick to unleash on her opponent while at the same time unveiling some sweet, eye popping and cute self. It was positively seductive not meant to deceive or lure but absolutely entertaining!!! It was natural not artificial so to say.
On one occasion, the global tennis organizing body, ITF, warned her to improve on her dress sense as well code and overall court mannerism or face sanctions. A real professional, she adjusted and moved on.
At the end of the 20th Century, a book, Women Who Changed The World, chose Billie Jean King as the female record breaking tennis player. The publication stated that Billie was a trailblazer for women tennis as she dominated the court for more than two decades. In 1973, the influential Sports Illustrated broke with tradition, rather than naming Sportsman of the Year, featured Billie Jean King as Sportswoman of the Year on its cover. So shall Serena be celebrated at the end of this year, decade and century.
Today, the talk in town is Serena Williams, the legend, the tennis icon and best ever star of the court in women category. She has entered into the League of Greatest Women of their Generations who were celebrated champions of their respective fields and callings to wit: Madona, Oprah Winfrey and Marilyn Monroe in music and entertainment., Mackerel, Margaret Thatcher and Benazir Bhutto, in politics., Mary Quant in fashion., Eva Peron, Rosa Parks, Mother Teresa and Princess Diana in human rights activism and philanthropy., Marie Curie in science and medicine.
You see, Obasi made me to admire Serena and loved her from a far distance while she got started and made great marks. At her exit from the court stage, another great journalist, communication expert, media guru and former managing director and editor in chief of the Sun newspapers, Dr Tony Onyima, through his post on Facebook, alerted me about Serena’s retirement.
Well – done Serena Williams.