Are Some of Our Black Athletes ‘Out of Focus’

By Gregory Moore
Updated: January 17, 2005
Serena & Venus Williams
Serena & Venus Williams

SAN ANTONIO, TX —-Success can be a strange animal even for the most ardent of individual. Case in point? Look at the recent struggles of Tiger Woods, Venus and Serena Williams. From the outset, these three athletes were destined for success and as they moved into their professional careers as athletes, each one was on the fast track of fame, fortune and notoriety. Yet, now these three have fallen prey to their own success because while they are making money hands over fists in the endorsement world, their ‘bread winner’ talent is suffering and they have not won much lately. Could this be the beginning of the end for them?

Clay surface not their biggest problem Last week the Williams’ sisters failed in their attempt to meet up in the French Open.

“We’re going to pack our bags and leave,” Venus Williams said. “There’s nothing left for us here anymore.”

That’s an attitude that none of us have heard from anybody from the Williams’ camp. When Venus uttered those words last week, they rang of someone who was defeated both physically and mentally. That is not what their fans are used to hearing or seeing but it has definitely crept into the girls’ mindset right now.

Nevertheless, who can blame them for the distractions that is now a part of their daily lives. Remember a few months ago that one of their sisters was killed in Compton. Add to that situation the fact that both are doing modeling work, Serena has a boyfriend and has started a clothing line, and the fact that their parents are no longer together and what do you get? Total chaos in my book.

Success for the sisters had threatened to bring their worlds clashing at times in the past. When their father, Richard Williams, was a part of their careers, many in the media thought that he was a big distraction. In one instance, he probably was but now one has to wonder where is he right now? Would he have allowed both of his stars falter so easily as Ocia Williams has this season? Maybe blaming the mother for a part of this is wrong and it’s unintentional. After all she too has many issues to deal with and this loss is just one of those instances where she has find a way to help her children cope with their success.

Even the hunter can be hunted down It’s hard to even recall when Tiger Woods has won a major golf event. This season the only title I can come up with is the Wachovia championship. There have been other titles out there after this golf event and Woods has not been anywhere near ‘sniffing’ distance to be in contention for some of them. This past weekend, Woods was thwarted in winning the Memorial for a record fourth time in a row by Ernie Els. He hasn’t been in contention for the Byron Nelson Classic or the Masters either. Up next for Woods is the U.S. Open and that’s on June 17th.

Woods has been struggling as well and he has been a little distracted. He’s engaged and it seems that since that engagement, his golf life has suffered a little bit down the stretch. He also hasn’t been too happy with his equipment lately. That may not seem like a big deal for you or me but for someone like Woods, his equipment is a part of his game and in the world of golf, if one piece is off, your whole game could be off.

Maybe Woods’ game is just coming around because of everything that he had gone through last year. He is still coming off a surgery that affected his play from two years ago, with him changing some equipment pieces, his game has been altered, and he’s in the process of getting back to “Tiger” form.

Overcoming adversity is what they do best With all the negatives that seem to be around these three gifted individuals, there is one trait that they all possess that will get them beyond what is perceived to be a lack of focus today. As successful as they are off the field of play and as hard as it may look for them to stay focused during play, they also can overcome any deficiencies that are glaring right now.

That’s a scary thought if you are an opponent of detractor of them. Imagine Woods coming out and smoking the competition at Shinnecock Golf Club where the U.S. Open will be played. Imagine if the Williams’ sisters just dominate their opponents on the grass surface in London, England later this month what would be written.

These small setbacks are just some prime examples of whether an athlete can truly be successful or not. The Williams’ sisters are going through some trials and tribulations that are testing their faith as a family and individuals. Woods is going through his own trials as well. All three of these athletes will overcome whatever they are facing and before we realize it, they will be sitting back on top of their games and their off the field empires. It’s just going to take a little time and even they have more of that than money these days.