The International Tennis Hall of Fame has always been slightly off in the criteria which they use to select certain members. Unlike golf which states exactly how many tournaments and majors a person needs to have won, tennis nominations seem to be more about likeability then ability. One person that should have a ticket into the museum in Newport should by Richard Williams. Father of Venus and #Serena Williams, this man not only taught himself how to play tennis but the coached both of his daughters to the number 1 ranking and major titles. He has only coached two players and they both became number 1 in the world. There are thousands of tennis academies all around the globe that do not even produce one top 10 player.
Regardless of what people may think of his commentary that facts are quite simple.
Richard Williams changed the game
Before the Williams’s sisters came along, there were a few players that hit the ball hard off of both wings (mainly Monica Seles.) However, something that the Venus and Serena still have over the rest of the competition is the combination of athleticism and power. Richard wanted to make his daughters all around athletes and enrolled them in everything from swimming to gymnastics. This amount of cross training made the sisters more aware of their own bodies and unlock its true power. The Williams sisters also broke so many color barriers in tennis because while there were players like Althea Gibson and Arthur Ashe, the sheer staying power of the sister made people take notice of them, Richard raised his daughters to be rough and at one point even described Serena as being much like a pitbull. He also encouraged them to play a limited schedule which has now benefited Serena immensely.
Every prediction he made for his daughters came true. Name anyone else with that kind of record.
The hall of fame needs to get it right
Not to become too political but the tennis hall of fame likes to make anyone that is unconventional wait. Another coaching legend, Nick Bollettieri was in his last year of eligibility when he was finally inducted a few years ago. Richard has always been outspoken and in a predominately white sport, any time a person of color sticks their chest out, it is viewed as a threat. Even now, commentators try to downplay the impact that Richard has had on the game of tennis. I would be hard pressed to find any other coach in tennis history that has made this much an impact on the game. Every time Serena steps on the court, she is making history and the man that got her there deserves a lot of credit. Every single young girl on the WTA tour tries to copy the Williams’s sisters and that in itself is a legacy that is too hard to overlook.