The Mother of Serena and Venus Williams, Oracene Price, Is a Force All Her Own

Follow the live broadcast Serena Williams to play Ajera Tomljanovic at US Open.

The crowd boiled. People jumped from their seats amid cheers and applause. Serena Williams took the lead against No. 2 seed Annette Kontaveit in the second round of this year’s U.S. Open.

It’s yet another feat for a legend beyond the sport that fans can’t get enough of. Supporters including her husband Alexis Ohanian; Tiger Woods; Anna Wintour, Vogue editor; others also stood up and applauded as the camera cut to her box at Arthur Ashe Stadium . Amid the hustle and bustle, one supporter appeared cool, cool and composed: Olasene Price, the mother of the tennis star.

Her calm, mysterious gaze has become a hallmark. Ms Price, 70, has been a courtside regular throughout her daughter’s career. On Twitter, she is a fan favorite. (One clip Her conversation with her granddaughter Alexis Olympia Ohanian Jr. garnered nearly 50,000 likes. )

Over the years, supporters have noticed Price’s facial expressions during games – she often wears sunglasses, rests her head on her hands and sometimes appears to be dozing off.

Since Venus and Serena Williams turned pro in the mid-’90s, Ms. Price has watched them play countless times, including hundreds of majors. This U.S. Open, however, is unlike anything Price has played in decades. Since Williams announced in a first-person piece for Vogue last month that she was “moving away from tennis,” her game has been filled with lightning-quick magic and clear edge. The crowd—thousands in the stadium, millions at home, watching parties and bars—seemed to hold their breath, thinking silently or aloud: Can she make it all the way? After winning 23 Grand Slam singles titles, will this be her 24th, tying Margaret Court’s record, or her last match?

There is a sense that, with Williams, we are witnessing the making of history. In her second-round victory, her message was clear: She’s not done yet.

So what’s it like to watch your kids make history? Did you know that you produced two of the greatest tennis players of all time? As a legendary mother who spent much of her adult life supporting their journey to tennis stardom, how could Ms Price be in a position to watch her daughter play what could be the last match of her career. What about a beacon that remains so graceful under pressure?

Anyone who has competed in youth sports will tell you that a lot of competition is filled with anxious, domineering, competitive parents. Parents are often seen cheering, shouting, and occasionally outbursts of anger or excitement. Not Ms. Price.

Some online assume she’s ready for her daughters to retire, or that, after all the touring, all the success over the years, she’s fed up with this part of her life. But that’s far from the case, according to Rick March, the Williams sisters’ former coach.

In the early 1990s, Mr. Macci coached the sisters for four years. Working closely with their father Richard Williams and Ms Price, he laid the foundations for the girls’ careers. Mr Williams was “always on the gas pedal”, Mr March said, while Ms Price had to be a “sedative”.

“That’s what you became,” he continued. “But obviously every time they made a shot or missed, she was miserable and happy throughout her career.”

But most importantly, Mr Macci said Ms Price was an amazing mother. “I think her personality — she’s very, very calm, very low-key,” he said. “She’s amazing with girls. She wants to make sure they’re kids. She wants to make sure they live their teenage lives, and she does everything possible to make that just as important.”

Mr Macci said Ms Price was a “master of puppets” and a “pillar” behind her daughters’ greatness. “She’s probably the best tennis mom ever,” he said. “Because she made Richard do the heavy lifting, and she’s a mom. And that balance, all we can say is: how can you argue with the outcome?”

He added, “She deserves to be in the Hall of Fame as a mom.”

Former freelance journalist Samantha Stevenson, who has written for The New York Times, and the mother of former professional tennis player Alexandra Stevenson echoed Mr March’s sentiments. Ms. Stevenson toured with Ms. Price for years as their daughter became good friends as children.

When Ms. Stevenson first met Ms. Price, she was an expatriate reporter. She took her daughter to interview Mr. Williams and Ms. Price about Venus. Later, when Ms. Stevenson herself became the parent of a tennis star, she said she always looked at things from the perspective of a sports reporter and a mother.

“Oracene was always looking for peace and grace,” Ms Stevenson said. “That’s how she lives. So what you see in the stands is she’s all over the place.”

She went on to say that Ms Price deserved the accolades and the title of “Best Mom”. “When you see her on the field, she looks like she’s sleeping, she’s not,” Ms Stevenson said. “She was just in her head, thinking. She watched a million points. What else did she miss? She knew Serena would take care of it.”

As Serena begins a new chapter in her life, dedicated to growing her family and career, and beyond tennis?

“Oracene will live with her daughters and evolve with them,” Ms Stevenson said. “Because that’s what she is: she’s their mom.”

What Ms. Price really thought or felt during her daughter’s game will likely remain a mystery to onlookers, but a 2019 interview with TODAY provided a clue. Ms Price was asked what she thought on the sidelines.

“Well, I mostly look at their technology,” she said. “But before they play, I’m watching their mental state,” pointing to her temple. Later in the interview, Ms Price added that she had learned to “just look at what it is”. only games. Some will win, some will lose. “

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