Serena and Venus Williams grew up a few miles from my house.
In the thirty years I’ve lived in Southern California, I haven’t seen them spend much time here. They live and train in Florida, and travel the world as members of the WTA.
But the Williams sisters recently renewed their ties to the community that helped shape them as both women and professional tennis players when they returned to Compton, California last weekend to announce the planned opening of a trauma resource center in honor of their slain older sister.
Yetunde Price, the elder half-sister of Venus and Serena, was killed in a drive-by shooting in 2003. She was a 31-year-old registered nurse and co-owner of a beauty shop. She also was the mother of three young children. Price was killed in the early morning of September 14, 2003, in Compton, a Los Angles community known for its gang violence. Price was shot in the head as a passenger in a car driven by her boyfriend, who authorities believed was the intended victim.
Dealing with the tragedy was a difficult process for the Williams sisters. They credit their family for helping them get through it. But the sisters have since realized that not everyone has the strong support system needed to deal with tragedy. Their goal with the Yetunde Price Resource Center is to offer help and guidance to those affected by gun violence and trauma in order to get the resources needed to heal and move on with their lives.
Sharoni Little is the center’s chief operating officer and says the center will serve 50 clients per month.
“This is going to be not just an exchange of information, but a sustained, deep relationship. It will be relational. There will be follow-up. There will be not just passing on a card or a flyer, but actually making those connections and relationships. And we obviously know it will grow because of the need.” ~ Sharoni Little
The Williams sisters understand the importance of families getting help when dealing with the aftermath of violent crimes.
“Basically, how does the family react? If her (Price’s) kids didn’t have my mom and us, it could be really devastating. But we had such a great system that they’re doing pretty good. We just felt like people who didn’t have that opportunity to fall back on, what could they do? And that’s kind of how this resource center came about.” ~ Serena Williams
The Williams sisters have been involved in many charitable efforts from backing scholarships for young Americans to funding schools in Africa and Jamaica. But this one hits close to home and brings them back to their community with a strong and positive presence.
“We’re really appreciative to have this opportunity, and to have it in Compton, I think it brings everything full circle. We started here and we want to make sure people understand this is a great place to be.” ~Serena Williams
The Yetunde Price Resource Center is set to open in Compton early next month.