US Open 2012: The Williams Sisters: The Making of Champions, Part 2

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US Open 2012: The Williams Sisters: The Making of Champions, Part 2
Paul Gilham/Getty Images
Another Wimbledon title for the Williams Sisters

Continued from part 1

THE RISE OF VENUS

In October 1994, 14-year-old Venus, the “Ghetto Cinderella” as her father referred to her, played her first professional tournament at Oakland, California.

In her first match, with Rick Macci and Richard looking on, she beat world No. 58 Shaun Stafford, 6-3, 6-4. This was despite not having played a tournament match for over three years.

In the next round she played world No. 2 Arantxa Sanchez-Vicario.

She lost the match in three sets, having led 6-2, 3-1.

Afterward, she was asked how this defeat compared to others she had suffered.

She replied, “I don’t know I've never lost before!”

Then in May 1995, age just 14 and having played in just one professional event, Venus signed a five-year, $12 million contract with Reebok—thus virtually guaranteeing the family’s financial security for life.

The contract, though, effectively ended the coaching relationship between Macci and the Williamses.

Although Richard wanted him to continue coaching the sisters, Macci wanted financial compensation for the $1 million worth of work and time he claimed to have invested in the family during their four years at his academy.

Neither would budge, and soon after Richard bought a 40-acre compound near Palm Beach Gardens, Florida, on which he built three courts.

There, he trained the sisters himself, with the help of hitting-coach Dave Rineberg; Macci went back to working full-time at his Academy.

In October 1995, age 15, Venus gained her first world ranking of No. 321 and ended the year No. 217.

During 1996 she rose to No. 148, and in April 1997, age 16, entered the Top 100.

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