Raleigh's Ebony Racquet Club members react to Serena Williams' retirement

Akilah Davis Image
Wednesday, August 10, 2022
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The Ebony Racquet Club has been serving up hope for children in southeast Raleigh since the 1970s.

RALEIGH, N.C. (WTVD) -- In southeast Raleigh, the squeak of sneakers changing direction is heard echoing throughout these tennis courts. The group of teens playing is part of the Ebony Racquet Club. Ava Walker,15, remembers the first time she saw Serena Williams on television.

"She's certainly a trailblazer. My parents put her on TV for the first time. I was like this is why I want to play tennis. I can't say I can't be Black and a national or global star because of her," she said. "It's not about how fast you can hit the ball or how hard it goes over the net."

The Ebony Racquet Club has been serving up hope for children in southeast Raleigh since the 1970s. While fundraising events and volunteers help this organization stay afloat, many alums have gone on to get scholarships to colleges and universities such as Nija Price, a senior at Johnson C. Smith University in Charlotte.

RELATED: Locals reflect on the career, influence of Serena Williams

"Tennis has taught me a lot. It's taught me a lot of social skills. It's taught me life skills. It's gotten me through school and college," said Price.

Her grandparents were some of the first members of the Ebony Racquet Club. They introduced their daughters to the game early.

"Everybody makes the joke that my sister and I were so much different than everybody else. We were strong, tall and muscular," said Kesha Price, a coach with the Ebony Racquet Club. "Everybody makes the joke that we were the Serena and Venus (Williams) before Serena and Venus."

Serena Williams' impact hasn't' just been felt by girls. Michael Boykin, 13, is inspired, too.

"I love how her forehand always goes in. It is so perfect. I try to hit her forehand. Doesn't work," he said.

All eyes are on Serena Williams as she hangs up her racquet for the final time. Her retirement is making room for the next generation of leaders.

"If I do make it up there ... hi! Until then, I'm just a local racquet player," said Walker.