Tennis stars Venus and Serena Williams received a homecoming like no other when they visited their childhood hometown in Compton, California this weekend.
The sisters who were making the trip for the first time since their half-sister was killed in 2003, were warmly received by the city’s residents.
Their mission there was pretty simple – to have tennis courts dedicated in their honour.
Treated to a performance by the Compton Sounders drill team and drum squad, the sisters could not help but share feelings of nostalgia with the people who had gathered at the Leuders park for the ceremony.
“It’s so great to be home,” Venus said adding that “we literally lived right down the street, so we could walk here”.
The tennis courts at the Leuders park, close to the home where the tennis stars grew up, has now been renamed the Venus and Serena Williams Court of Champions after it was refurbished.
“It’s so important to have the support of the community, its so important to have the support of the city and Mayor Brown and what she is doing, and also the support of all the sponsors who came in here and made it possible to have the tennis courts refurbished,” Venus said.
The refurbishment she says will “make sure that there is coaching available, to make sure that these programs go on, to make sure that sports stays here in the community, because it’s a big part of bringing us all up, and it’s a big part of creating positivity in the life of young people. “
An equally emotional Serena told the crowd that “just driving here brought back so many memories”.
Serena who lost her world number one ranking in September after crashing out of the US Open semis, also said rebuilding the court will ensure “everyone here will have an opportunity to make their dreams come true, kinda like Venus and I did, that really means a lot to us.”
The previously run-down courts can host up to three tennis camps and clinics.
Venus, the elder of the two sisters is a 7-time Grand Slam singles champion while Serena is a 22-time Grand Slam singles champion who spent 186 weeks as the number one ranked women’s tennis player.