As someone who looks forward to attending the U.S. Open in Flushing Meadows every year, it was excruciating not being there this Labor Day weekend. I can’t begin to accurately express how much I missed walking the grounds of the Billie Jean King Center and taking my seat in the great Arthur Ashe Stadium to watch the greatest tennis players in the world battle it out on the court.
So you can imagine how yesterday’s women’s final compounded my frustration when the greatest player of all time was yet again hindered from tying Margaret Court’s record of 24 grand slam titles (a dubious record considering only 11 of these titles were won in the Open era, but who’s dotting i’s and crossing t’s), not because of her tennis, but because of an unprecedented action taken by a inferior umpire whose fear of a powerful African-American woman is disturbing, yet prevalent. Yes, that is all his ridiculous call was about. Nobody has ever taken away an entire game from someone for being questioned. Nobody! I remember the days when John McEnroe used to call umpires “incompetent fools” and no one took points away from him, much less entire games.
Ah but cream always rises to the top and my beautiful sister did just that when she asked an equally disgusted audience to silence the booing and congratulate the young Ms. Osaka on her first grand slam title. And Naomi, graceful and humble, extended her thankfulness to her former idol and was finally able to smile over her victory.
Regardless as to what little man sits in that raised chair, Ms. Serena Williams is the greatest women’s tennis player of all time and there is nothing they can do about it.
This week also brought great joy to my community when Nike revealed the first ad of their new campaign with the football great Colin Kaepernick. The fact that their sales soared 31% upon the release of the ad says it all.
Nike is the proud sponsor of both of these brilliant, accomplished champions. And you wonder why I’ve only run in Nike shoes the past 8 years.
It was 10 years ago that I visited the Civil Rights Museum in Birmingham, Alabama and my life changed forever. Before the end of this year, I will visit the National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington, D.C. and given the events of this week, my thankfulness for such great institutions like these warm my heart beyond measure and remind me what a privilege it is to celebrate the rich culture and excellence of my lineage!