‘Jehovah God’ Serena’s Secret Weapon In Grand Slams | Independent Newspapers Limited
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‘Jehovah God’ Serena’s Secret Weapon In Grand Slams

Posted: Jul 28, 2015 at 1:47 am   /   by   /   comments (0)

By Uzor Odigbo, Lagos With Agency Report


When Serena Williams won Wimbledon this month, she proclaimed as she usually does after a big win in grand slams, “thanks to Jehovah God.”

Williams, 33, is the top-ranked tennis player in the world, known for her relentless will and bullying strokes. She is also a Jehovah’s Witness, a faith that encourages members to separate from the broader world and discourages them from competitive sports on the grounds that it promotes nationalism, violence and celebrity – all things Witnesses are supposed to avoid.

Serena Williams

Serena Williams

And yet for Williams, her faith is like a secret weapon, a stealthy supply of strength and perseverance that some observers say is as vital to her game as her 120 mph serve. She’s a U.S. Open title away from a “calendar slam” – the rarely achieved four Grand Slam tournament wins in one year.

How has Williams balanced her faith and the winner’s circle? It is a subject she and her sister Venus, also a tennis star and former No. 1 player, have discussed only rarely. But Serena Williams has left a trail of comments that show her belief in God, and especially her identity as a Witness, has bolstered her already formidable tennis talents.

Serena and her four older sisters became Witnesses after their mother, Oracene, converted to the faith in the early 1980s. Serena has said she attends church and has gone door to door, as Witnesses are required to do, to hand out tracts and evangelize.

In 2012, her older half-sister Isha Price revealed who had a rare sit-down interview with Serena that explored her faith, that the tennis stars’ fame sometimes gives them access that other Witnesses might not get.

“And they saw that as a blessing – getting to talk to people who would not ordinarily let them in,” Sullivan told The New York Times after the interview. “But there were other houses, she said, where people didn’t know who they were and were just as hostile or unreceptive as to anyone else.”