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The Williams sisters and specially Serena have always attracted scorn on some quarters. In tennis and outside tennis. Criticism ranges from the way they play tennis: too physical, unsportsmanlike conduct, power but no finesse. Then there is their physique. A muscular body that is not feminine which gives them undue advantage. The influence of their eccentric father. It is hard to overlook that some of the jibes might have racial undertones. Before the Williams sisters, I was only aware of the Zina Garrison as a successful black female tennis player.
This documentary directed by Ryan White followed Serena in a momentous year as she chased a calendar grand slam. At the age of 33 she has been winning grand slams for almost half her life. Yet Serena is a private person and we know very little about her. We know about the flak she gets, we see footage of her in Indian Wells tennis tournament in 2001 where she was booed and racial abuse was hurled at the Williams family. This event took place live on television at the beginning of the new millennium.
White's documentary reveals a softer side of Serena, the woman who loves to watch Disney films after a victory but we also see her down as she fails in the US Open, the final hurdle of her quest for the calendar grand slam. We see Serena training, we see her coach talking to the camera as well as other members of her family and her entourage.
Given what she has achieved in terms of tournament victories and prize money she still has the drive and desire for more even though she is now a veteran of woman's tennis. Yet she also feels nerves and trepidation when going out to the court.
An interesting documentary but not always revealing despite seeing her domestic life and her coach being insightful on camera. I still think we see a more probing look at Serena that will eventually come after she has left tennis.
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