The Genius of Richard Williams: Caribbean Leaders Should Follow
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The genius of Richard Williams: Caribbean Leaders Should Follow
By William Skinner
We are all spellbound by the feats of Serena Williams on the tennis court. She amazes and graces with her superior skills and is certainly one of the greatest Afro American women of the century and her era. Her sister Venus is of no lesser prominence although her dominance of the sport can no longer match Serena’s. While we accept that both of their parents have been instrumental to their achievements, it is known that their father Richard Williams is the great man behind these two extraordinary women.
We in the Caribbean have seen genius at work in the form of Sir Garfield Sobers and Brian Lara in cricket. We are now seeing such genius in Usain Bolt, the great Jamaican athlete, who many are claiming is the greatest, in his field, which the world has ever seen.
However, we believe that the world has not yet grasped the vastness of what Richard William has achieved with his two great daughters. We are not going to dwell here on the rags to riches story. We are accustomed to such things happening from time to time. What we are focusing on is the mind of Richard Williams and making perhaps, a futile effort, to demonstrate how we can learn from him.
First, he assessed what it would have taken to produce two players/ athletes of this level. He did not dive into a thousand books on coaching and spent his time marveling on how others have “done it”. He created his own seventy page manual. We are unsure as to whether he ever made it public but it will be fascinating document to study. Rule one for our now stumbling Caribbean Leaders: Create your own model of development.
Richard Williams examined the field in which he was endeavoring to take his children. It was almost lily white; there were only two blacks who had reached exceptional heights; it was an expensive sport and there were social and economic barriers to climb. He boldly declared that his daughters would not be found trying to copy white players and would not become second class citizens trying to maintain membership of exclusive tennis clubs. Nope. He needed balls to practice and he got them from the fancy clubs and transported them in shopping carts to the public courts. Rule two to Caribbean leaders: Utilize easily obtained resources and use them to propel the region to greater heights.
Having developed the skills of his daughters, he entered them in tournaments when they were fully prepared to beat everybody in sight! He determined the pace of their development. Rule four to Caribbean leaders: Determine your own development and be confident enough to put your stamp on it. Do not will our region to rich people who can buy citizenships. Richard Williams did not will his daughters to the rich tennis country clubs.
The end result: He changed the face of tennis and has a model that can be followed and admired by millions who never dreamed they could have aspired to greatness in, not only tennis but any field.
That is the genius of Richard Williams that Caribbean leaders should seek to emulate.
William Skinner is a commentator on Caribbean cultural and political matters