Venus Williams is a phenomenal woman, says the YWCA of Greater L.A.
If you're one of the girls or young women served by the YWCA Greater Los Angeles, you could be in luck.
Williams announced that she's thinking about starting a sports program there; she'd be the resident tennis expert and would recruit her tennis doubles partner, younger sister Serena -- spotted Saturday at the New York wedding of Carmelo Anthony and Lala Vazquez -- to bat some balls around.
"I'm looking forward to getting involved and making a difference," the soft-spoken sports icon-author-designer told the crowd at the Y's benefit luncheon in downtown Los Angeles on Tuesday.
Williams came back to her hometown with her furry family in tow -- 3-year-old Havanese Harold "Harry" Reginald and two as-yet-unnamed puppies who came onboard a week ago -- to accept the Y's Phenomenal Woman of the Year Award "saluting women who change the game."
As the Y's ebullient Chief Executive Faye Washington put it, Williams, the first African-American to be ranked the world's No. 1 tennis player in either the men's or women's game, "is one of the fiercest game changers on earth."
"She shows women and girls around the world that there's just no glass, crystal, bling ceiling -- y'all got the bling? Y'all got the crystal? -- and she supports programming that provides real opportunity for women to succeed," Washington said as she introduced a video demonstrating "how bad this sister really is."
Then Williams took the stage and talked about her own role models, including her mom, Oracene Price.
"I think people know my dad more than my mom," she said with some understatement. "She's the rock and gave us a great spiritual base. My mom's tough; I get a lot of my strength from her. I wanted her to come today. I blame myself.
"I forgot to tell her what time."
Joining in the celebration were "Moesha" star Sheryl Lee Ralph, Rachel Grant ("Die Another Day"), "Imagine That's" Vanessa Williams and LaVan Davis of "Tyler Perry's House of Payne."
-- Irene Lacher
Photo: Faye Washington of the YWCA of Greater L.A., left, with Venus Williams and Sheryl Lee Ralph on July 13 in downtown Los Angeles. Credit: Tonya Wise / YWCA, JCEC.