The Proudest Papa

Richard Williams has a great time being the progenitor of champions

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In my book, all this makes Williams the perfect stage father for the '90s. Unencumbered with guilt for making lots of money in flush times, he is also unburdened with doubt about the way he made it. And why should he be burdened at all? In an era when a great many less appealing and pleasant people than he blissfully screw others to get ahead, Richard did it the old-fashioned way, and with the woman he loves. Free of shame, he is also free to love his highly profitable girls wholeheartedly, which--it is clear for all to see--he does. He kept them out of the juniors because he wanted them to concentrate on their education.

Pressed by Lauer to predict which of his daughters would prevail in the Open, his refusal to answer was as full of protective affection as of cuteness and tact. (He said, "A Williams.") Earlier in the week, when informed of Outrageous Statement No. 10,000 that her dad had made, Serena, who won the whole shebang, rolled her eyes slightly heavenward, the way that only a normally dad-mortified daughter would do.

Child psychologists may protest that the Williams girls would have been better off exercising their free choice of careers, and thus possibly to have become the nation's first African-American sister actuaries. But I'd bet that if asked how they are taking to their oppressive, regimented, premolded lives, they would both grin the way they do when they drill a backhand into the baseline corner.

Besides, there is something transparently insincere when parents say they want their children to lead their own lives and follow their dreams. What they really mean is that they want the kids to be safe, rich and happy. Richard Williams: Father of the Decade?

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