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Video: Venus Williams’s father schools a white journalist on how to interview a 14-year-old black girl

Reuters/Arnd Wiegmann
He raised a confident woman.
This article is more than 2 years old.

Tennis legend Serena Williams secured the her fourth consecutive Grand Slam title with a Wimbledon win On July 11. Meanwhile, a 20-year-old video of her sister and fellow tennis superstar, Venus, has been making the rounds on Facebook. In the video, an interviewer asks Venus why she is so confident, prompting the Williams sisters’ father to interrupt.

It happened during an interview for ABC News Day One in 1995, with correspondent John McKenzie. He actually earned an Emmy nomination for the segment:

Here is the exchange leading up to the outburst:

McKenzie: Did you think you could beat her?

Venus: I know I can beat her.

McKenzie: You know [you can beat her]? Very confident.

Venus: I’m very confident.

McKenzie: You say it so easily. Why?

Venus: Because I believe it.

At which point Richard Williams interrupts, telling McKenzie,  ”What she said, she said it with so much confidence the first time, but you keep going on and on.” Then McKenzie tells Williams that he “can’t keep interrupting,” prompting the father to give the interviewer a bit of a lesson:

“You’ve got to understand that you’re dealing with the image of a 14-year-old child. And this child gonna be out there playing when your old ass and me gonna be in the grave. When she say something, we done told you what’s happening. You’re dealing with a little black kid, and let her be a kid. She done answered it with a lot of confidence, leave that alone.”

The clip was reportedly included in a 2013 documentary about the Williams sisters. It was shared on Facebook last year, and seems go be going viral again.

This new interest in the moment follows the New York Times publishing a much-lambasted piece focusing on the body images (paywall) of women tennis players, with a particular focus on what it called Serena Williams’ ”mold-breaking muscular frame.” Many have criticized the article as tone-deaf, perpetuating a history of other-ing black women and their bodies, and the revering of the top white tennis players as models of femininity.

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