WASHINGTON (DC News Now) — Randy Brater has played tennis for a good part of his life.
“Great sport, good exercise. Great as you get older, you play your whole life,” Brater said during a break from a lesson at the Banneker Tennis Courts.
Brater will continue playing, but one of his favorite players will soon call it quits. Serena Williams said she will retire after the U.S. Open.
“I think it’s sad. I love watching her play,” said Brater. “She’s probably the best women’s tennis player of all time. Maybe the best women’s athlete of all time.”
Clark Bogle is Brater’s instructor. He said that he will also miss Williams.
“She’s been probably the most recognizable female athlete, maybe ever,” Bogle said.
Williams and her sister, Venus, are no strangers to tennis fans, and to Washington, D.C.
They have visited the area several times including 2001 to help open the Southeast Tennis and Learning Center. Serena’s most recent visit came during the recent Citi Open where she did not compete. But she did a bit of sightseeing.
Williams also played several seasons with the Washington Kastles professional tennis teams, but players believe that she had a bigger impact than that due to what she and her sister did to promote the game to local children.
“They’ve recruited so many who might not have otherwise think about playing tennis,” Brater said. “You can see that around the District with all the programs, the WTF (World Tennis Federation) and other places with a lot of youth really really getting involved with tennis, and robust tennis as well.”
“If you want to talk about someone who’s inspired loads of kids around D.C. to get into tennis, especially young girls, they’re at the top of the list,” added Bogle.
Serena Williams will be missed, but players told DC News Now that they are glad she will step away from competitive tennis on her own terms.