Three ingredients for success seem certain: a plan, ability and determination. The Williams sisters, Venus and Serena, had the determination and the ability. Their father had the plan that would make his girls an unstoppable force in the game of lawn tennis. Sportswriter Howard Bryant’s book, “Sister & Champions: The True Story of Venus and Serna Williams” encapsulates the childhood and professional careers of Venus and Serena.
“Sister & Champions” shows how sensibly working a plan can lead to remarkable results. While the Williams sisters’ mega-success is more exception than rule, their life shows that hard work, teamwork and family can help to build a solid foundation on which to build life. Indeed, some parents believe their children to be prodigies in this or that and they steer them on a path. The Williams’ father seemingly was that way, but he had a motivation that was strictly about the girls’ wellbeing. He wanted them to have a better future than he had, and he wanted them to live in a safer space. He saw tennis as the way to attain those goals. But what if the girls had no athletic ability? Being sensible and mindful of whether children are enjoying the goals set by parents are keys to their success.
There are several sub-themes embedded in the pages. One of the themes is sibling rivalry: there was none between the girls and their parents didn’t encourage it. And guess what? The girls played better together and dominated the sport as a team, even though they have stellar and historical careers individually.
The importance of siblings being friends with each other can be noted throughout “Sister & Champions.” The friendship the two shares transcend injury and competition. That bond is important for siblings in general but very helpful when they work in the same profession or at the same place or if their parents are no longer in their lives. They will always have each other.
Though a children’s book, the writing is sophisticated but still clear. I was not surprised that the writer was a journalist since there was so much rich detail, not usually present in children’s books. The book should be comfortable for middle school readers who like to read. For those who are not so keen it may take them a few sittings. Perhaps coupling the reading sessions with watching some real matches or watching a documentary on the sisters’ lives may bring the book alive for those with different learning styles.
For any adult who wants the Cliff’s Notes on the life of the Williams sister, this book would work just fine.