Tweeting Up a Storm: Williams sisters’ Mom Makes `News’

My column on AOL Fanhouse

Oracene Price, mother of Venus and Serena Williams, has not tweeted in six days. I wanted to make sure I was the first to report that news. It is clear she’s embarrassed and angry by what she had tweeted before the women’s final of the Australian Open.

If you missed the little storm she created last week on Twitter, she said she was hoping Li Na would beat Kim Clijsters because she thought it “would be cool for a Chinese to win.” She also wrote, “Let’s say I’m not pulling for the other one. I dislike dubious people.”

It’s clear she hates Clijsters. People wrote to Price on Twitter, complaining that it was clear she’s racist against white people. Price also made some sort of comment comparing Clijsters to Medusa, clearly stating she thinks Clijsters is funny looking.

Look, the truth is that nothing is clear here at all, possibly not even to Price. This was a study in modern media and in Twitter itself. There is an entire Twitter world, and it’s unclear what it even is.

It means different things to different people. Tennis moms can use it in varying states of consciousness. Media types are using it mostly to try to stay on top of the game, and also to give instant analysis.

I use it, too, and can be found @gregcouch. To me, it is mostly for little throw-away, stream of consciousness type of thoughts, but not always. You don’t do much in-depth analysis in 140 characters, including spaces between words, to make your point. That’s all you get on Twitter. This paragraph blew past tweet length about two sentences ago.

But I think we make a mistake when we read too much into tweets, or even try to.

My friend Jason Whitlock at wrote about this last week, in regard to Bears quarterback Jay Cutler. Other NFL players ripped into Cutler on Twitter, suggesting he should have kept playing in the NFC Championship Game after he hurt his knee, and that got things rolling, defined the moment in quips.

But those tweets are unreliable, out of context and coming from athletes who are not professionals at communication.

Also, it can take athletes months to form a thought, much less 140 characters, minus spaces.

All of this hit on a lesser level with Price. She made her little comments, about Clijsters, Li, Chinese and dubious.

“Also, I don’t want My vision blurred! That thought made me LOL!” Price tweeted.


“Did you peep that eye of hers?” Price tweeted. “It gives the Madusah scare and turns you into solid stone. Don’t look at that eye.”

Theoretically, that’s the Medusa stare, meaning Price is a student of Greek mythology or she saw the Percy Jackson movie.
In the movie, Medusa was played by Uma Thurman, and if you looked into her eyes, you turned into a statue.

But what does she mean by that? I don’t know. You don’t know.

I doubt even she knows. That’s Twitter.

Still, this led to quick, necessary response in the media, jumping on Price. Truth is, nobody was really upset about what Price had said. We are now a bunch of gawkers. It has become our entertainment to pick on someone for something tiny, and then to make that person squirm because of it. 

No better playground than Twitter, where we pretend to take seriously something called a tweet. It empowers people, reshapes news in a way we haven’t quite pinned down yet.

“Don’t play the race care. I deal with it everyday,” she wrote to someone who had tweeted to her, calling her a racist for picking on Clijsters.

“You’re Brutal and hateful,” she responded to another tweeter, who had used those words on her. “Get of my sight.”

“I wasn’t dissing Kim,” she wrote. “She does thing on court that I been trying to get my girls to do.”

There was some speculation on Twitter that maybe Price was confusing her Belgians, and actually meant Justine Henin, not Clijsters.

So maybe Oracene was Belgian Waffling?

The point is, no one knows. And if it weren’t for Twitter, no one would even care what Price had to say anyway, unless she were speaking about her daughters, or for them.

In October, tennis was abuzz briefly when Price tweeted that she thought Fed Cup was “boring.”

First off, who cares? Secondly, are you sure she wasn’t right? That’s what was on top of her mind.

Well, six days and counting since Price has tweeted. Maybe she’s upset? Maybe she just doesn’t feel like tweeting. Or maybe. . .

She watched on TV as Clijsters won the final, gazed into the “Madusah scare” and turned to stone.

Follow me on Twitter @gregcouch


About gregcouch

I can talk tennis all day long, and often do. And yet some of the people I talk to about it might rather I talk about something else. Or with someone else. That’s how it is with tennis, right? Sort of an addiction. Sort of a high. I am a national columnist at and a FoxSports1 TV insider, and have been a columnist at the Chicago Sun-Times. In 2010, I was the only American sports writer to cover the full two weeks of all four majors, and also to cover each of the U.S. Masters series events. I’ve seen a lot of tennis, talked with a lot of players, coaches, agents. I watched from a few rows behind the line judge as Serena rolled her foot onto the baseline for the footfault, a good call, at the 2009 U.S. Open. I sat forever watching a John Isner marathon, leaving for Wimbledon village to watch an England World Cup soccer game at a pub and then returning for hours of Isner, sitting a few feet from his wrecked coach. I got to see Novak Djokovic and Robin Soderling joke around on a practice court on the middle Sunday at Wimbledon, placing a small wager on a tiebreaker. Djokovic won, and Soderling pulled a bill out of his wallet, crumpled it into his fist and threw it at Djokovic, who unwadded it, kissed it, and told me, “My work is done here.’’ And when Rafael Nadal won the French Open in 2010, I finished my column, walked back out onto the court, and filled an empty tic tac container with the red clay. I’m looking at it right now. Well, I don’t always see the game the same way others do. I can be hard on tennis, particularly on the characters in suits running it. Tennis has no less scandal and dirt than any other game. Yet somehow, it seems to be covered up, usually from an incredible web of conflicts of interest. I promise to always tell the truth as I see it. Of course, I would appreciate it if you’d let me know when I’m wrong. I love sports arguments and hope to be in a few of them with you here. Personal info: One-handed backhand, serve-and-volleyer. View all posts by gregcouch

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: