- The Washington Times - Wednesday, July 11, 2001

Venus Williams is the fashion designer who dabbles in tennis.
Maybe now, after winning the championship again at Wimbledon, she can devote herself exclusively to the catwalks of the world.
Her father, the village idiot, perpetually suggests that his daughter is about to leave the game, which is either a warning to the fashion industry or further evidence of an intellect just above a pet rock.
Either way, this redundant exercise is staged in all the tennis precincts around the world, as if the father expects the world to call a timeout and beg that he let his daughter come out to play on a regular basis.
The world spins anyway, either foraging for food in North Korea or cheap gasoline in the U.S.
The two-time Wimbledon champion is one of the village idiot's two cash cows, and even a practiced tennis observer such as Mary Carillo finds the family's dynamics to be confusing, if not exhausting.
It was easier to decipher the signs from the Kremlin in the old days of the Soviet Union than the mumbo jumbo of the village idiot and the fashion designer trapped in the body of a tennis player.
Monica Lewinsky makes designer handbags, if it matters, and maybe it does in a gossipy way.
Those with this particular creative bent are an odd lot, judging by the threads displayed in Milan, Paris and New York City. Some stick figures actually wear the stuff in public and wind up looking like alien life forms. They do have two arms and two legs to go with their impressively heroin-chic frames, which is how the poor survivors of Auschwitz looked after their liberation.
None of this has much to do with tennis, which is often the point with the father and two daughters.
The outcome across the big pond ensured that no medical report would be necessary, generally the refuge of the other tennis-playing daughter. That daughter is always sick or hurt after a loss, and she usually has a team of doctors at her side to explain in numbing detail just how tough it is to play with a life-threatening boo-boo.
Sometimes she comes down with an incredibly infected hangnail, in which case gripping a racquet is almost impossible and she is placed under quarantine.
The village idiot, when he is not babbling to the press, is concocting a specially devised energy drink. The connection between the drink and the one daughter's highly publicized tummy ache was, hopefully, coincidental.
Even so, to be fair, the Food and Drug
Administration has no jurisdictional rights in England.
The Wimbledon queen is able to have it both ways. She does not like to practice, and it often shows in her technically flawed mechanics, and yet, she is one of the best.
This doesn't say much for the quality and depth of women's tennis, which is why many of the game's supporters try to avoid the early rounds of a tournament unless Anna Kournikova is involved in a match.
Kournikova always looks her best, the level of tennis incidental to the candy on the male eyes, and she is not liable to be around when the tennis starts to get interesting. It is only rarely about the tennis with Kournikova. The same goes for the Williams clan.
Lindsay Davenport, the human statue who spends much of her time shooing away the pigeons in her midst, is sharp enough to pick up this nuance. Whenever a Williams thinks aloud, the chroniclers within earshot first snicker and then go for it. It never fails.
In a backhanded way, this is good for the game, as Davenport notes. A dysfunctional family keeps it real, and entertains, too, not unlike the British royals.
Tennis observers whisper the hope of an eventual split between the daughters and the father. The notion is fed by the news that the mother already has beat her daughters to it.
In the absence of levity, the daughters strike a bigger-than-the-game pose, for what little that is worth, and rankle the guardians of the game further.
The guardians resort to the obvious at times, which is: Have a clue. Get a life. Or design a frock.
The game doesn't have to be this difficult or convoluted.

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