Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Introducing Serena Williams ... the Scribe

BETWEEN winning grand slams and acting and fashion designing, Serena Williams has inexplicably found the time to do something that millions of Americans only dream about: She’s penned a book.

“On the Line,” written with Daniel Paisner, debuts in bookstores today. “It comes from my tennis career, which I feel like I have been so blessed to have,” SW explained during her appearance at the U.S. Open draw ceremony last week. “I talk a lot about my family, about how it was when I was younger – about all my sisters.”

“OTL” is written in an accessible, conversational style. It is not serious penmanship by any stretch – nor is that the intention. It is what it is: engaging; funny; tender; inspirational; sad; lighthearted, with some beefs, but not too many – and not too deep.

Some chapters (No. 3) like “Venus and “Me” are almost self-explanatory, while others like “Ride a Little, Bump a Little” (No. 1), about her early tennis-playing days when the game was a family affair, are more cryptic. She serves up a little controversy in Chapter 4, “The Fiery Darts of Indian Wells,” about that ugly incident in 2001 at the California tournament (now known as BNP Paribas Open.) On the lighter side is “Fashion Statements" (Chapter 7), which does not so much concern itself with soccer get-ups, catsuits, tiaras and denim skirts, as it does with the fashion design education of SW.

In “Only the Strong Survive” (Chapter 11), a West African trip is just the elixir a grieving SW needs. And her incredible, improbable run to take the 2007 Australian Open informs “Up from Down Under” (Chapter 12), which may have inspired her to say of “OTL”: “It’s a little bit of a motivational speech as well … when I was really not doing so well, when I was over 130 in the world. I talk a little about that part of my life.”

At 272 pages, “OTL” is not a slim book but it is not comprehensive. “I really like the title ‘On the Line’ because it really kind of goes with the book really well because I’ve really tried to put myself on the line,” SW emphasized. “I really didn’t hold too much back … But it’s not a complete memoir about my whole life.”

"On the Line" is published by Grand Central Publishing, a division of Hachette Book Group.

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