Uncle Luke, the man whose booty-shaking madness once made the Supreme Court stand up for free speech, gets as nasty as he wants to be for Miami New Times. This week, Luke says the Williams sisters don't get their due.
Venus and Serena Williams represent black people and female athletes in a positive way, so I have a hard time believing they don't get more recognition and endorsement deals.
Tennis is a grueling and difficult sport. When you play professional tennis, you compete against the best in the world. The career of a tennis player is very short. To see these young ladies stay at the top for so long is truly amazing. Venus turned professional at age 14 and celebrated her 30th birthday in June. These sisters should be getting the kind of attention that has been given to Roger Federer, Tiger Woods, and Michael Jordan. Yet they don't.
Venus and Serena Williams
In women's tennis, players such as Jelena Jankovic, Ana Ivanovic, Dinara Safina, and Svetlana Kuznetsova rise and fall from the top, but the Williams sisters have shown consistent greatness on clay and grass courts for more than a decade. Serena is the number one player in the world. Venus turned in a phenomenal performance at the U.S. Open despite a two-month layoff. The sisters have been racking up grand slam wins since the mid-'90s,and won Olympic gold medals in doubles in the 2000 and 2008 summer games. These girls whip ass. And they don't stop.
Their star power is undeniable. In 2001, 13 million viewers tuned to CBS to watch Venus and Serena battle each other for the U.S. Open trophy. Yet neither sister is the top-earning female tennis player in the game. That title goes to Maria Sharapova, who, according to Forbes, earned $23.5 million in endorsement deals and appearance fees last year. She has yet to recover from major shoulder surgery in 2008, but Sharapova (whose sponsors include Nike, Sony Ericsson, and Tiffany) is the world's highest-paid female athlete.
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Serena and Venus (who was recently ranked fifth among pro female tennis players) made $20.2 million and $15.4 million, respectively, last year, but Tiffany sure isn't knocking on their door to hock its jewelry. They need to be treated like Indianapolis Colts quarterback Peyton Manning. These women should be in his club. But being black female athletes isn't the look corporate America wants to pitch to the public.
More is made of the outfits the Williamses wear than their play and the history they are making. This sport is 99 percent white. They are surpassing every tennis player before them while breaking records along the way. Venus and Serena need to be put on a pedestal because they are the queens of their sport.
I'm afraid the Williams sisters will get the attention they deserve only if they get caught up in a scandal. That's when they'll be offered their own reality show.
Follow Luke on Twitter: @unclelukereal1.