sports pages this morning for early thoughts on Terps basketball tonight in the Big Ten Tournament.
But my eyes wandered to a side-bar tennis article about Serena Williams and the Indian Wells (California) BNP Paribas Open. This year marks Williams' return to the tournament after 14 years of deliberate absence.
Serena was a teenager booed from the crowd during play at her last Indian Wells appearance. Her father heard racist remarks. These hurt her young sensitivities and her dad's mature feelings. He said that she should never play Indian Wells again. And she hasn't. Until this year.
How Serena decided to make a return is a family story. She talked to a reporter about the decision being influenced partly by the urging of sister Venus, a film about Nelson Mandela, and the quality of forgiveness, in her words, where she noted Mandela's reconciliation ideas. "'In order to forgive you have to be
able to really let go of everything,' she said. 'I went through
something that wasn’t the best for me. Trying to get over those nerves
of coming back and how will I feel and what’s it going to be like. I
have to experience that. When you do forgive and you do try to let go,
you have to let a lot of those emotions go as well.'”
Tennis fans at Indian Wells this year might have changed and matured in character and morals. They should make an unusual effort to show, clearly, a determined welcome for Williams now. An unsportsmanlike few in a crowd can make any sports competition turn sour and unfair, as well as nerve-wracking for players and onlookers.
Looking back, the losers 14 years ago were the rude few among the multitude at Indian Wells; they lacked the ability to appreciate the dynamism of two powerful players, sisters trained by their father and on their way to the top of their sport, amid a growing sports-like openness to all skilled players.
The beauty of the Williams story is that a close family, talent, focus, hard work, world-tennis championships--and yes, faith and prayer--have enthusiastically outdone the foul shots of insult and injury. When good does not give up against evil, good overcomes even on playing courts, or grass, and in the bleachers.
Good fans should spurn bad fan behavior of whatever kind. The bad behavior should not go unnoticed by sports officials anywhere. Fan entry rule #1: Throw hidden alcoholic drinks, drugs, and ingrown prejudice in the trash where it belongs, outside the sports arena.