They Wanted and Needed Her Back!

venus indian wells returnOn a day when the news was filled with racism, hatred and violence, Venus Williams walked into Stadium One at Indian Wells beaming and triumphant. After fifteen years, she returned to a place she boycotted, a place she did not feel respected or safe. This place of white privilege, showed her its growth and gratitude for the lesson she taught them with ear-splitting applause and a standing ovation. The commentators finally let go of their doubts, their discussions of whether the racist incident occurred and simply acknowledged the beauty and the significance of the moment.

Venus’ return was amplified by her walk-on music, The Jackson’s I Want You Back. One has to assume that the tournament chose this song as a public apology and acknowledgement of the racist experience they contributed to so long ago. This is especially poignant given Venus’ age, health, the state of tennis and the ever-growing popularity of Republican Presidential Candidate, Donald Trump. So on a cloudy and cool day in the Southern California desert we saw the best of tennis, America and the world. Indian Wells wanted Venus back, but the world needed her back.

Uh-huh huh huhhh
Let me tell ya now
Uh-huh
(Mmhhmmm)

When I had you to myself, I didn’t want you around
Those pretty faces always made you stand out in a crowd
But someone picked you from the bunch, one glance was all it took
Now it’s much too late for me to take a second look

Oh baby, give me one more chance
(To show you that I love you)
Won’t you please let me back in your heart
Oh darlin’, I was blind to let you go
(Let you go, baby)
But now since I see you in his arms
(I want you back)
Yes I do now
(I want you back)
Ooh ooh baby
(I want you back)
Yeah yeah yeah yeah
(I want you back)
Na na na na

Trying to live without your love is one long sleepless night
Let me show you, girl, that I know wrong from right
Every street you walk on, I leave tear stains on the ground
Following the girl I didn’t even want around

Let me tell ya now
Oh baby, all I need is one more chance
(To show you that I love you)
Won’t you please let me back in your heart
Oh darlin’, I was blind to let you go
(Let you go, baby)
But now since I see you in his arms

All I want…
All I need…
All I want!
All I need!

Oh, just one more chance
To show you that I love you
Baby baby baby baby baby baby!
(I want you back)
Forget what happened then
(I want you back)
And let me live again!

Oh baby, I was blind to let you go
But now since I see you in his arms
(I want you back)
Spare me of this cause
(I want you back)
Give me back what I lost!

Oh baby, I need one more chance, hah
I tell you that I love you
Baby, oh! Baby, oh! Baby, oh!
I want you back!
I want you back!
[Fade out]

Though Venus lost to her opponent qualifier Kaumi Nara 4-6, 3-6, it is not the lost the annals should note. It is the true courage of an athlete whose actions positively changed the sport. She has stood-up time and again when it was not safe or popular and cost her in ways we may never know. She boycotted Indian Wells, stood-up for equal pay and was instrumental in providing players access to higher education. Venus may not play much longer on tour, but if the sport does not seek her as a leader in any capacity, it will have lost another great opportunity and need another lesson for Venus Williams!

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