Ever so often in sports you get these certain athletes that prove to be much more than the ordinary athlete. They tend to be superstars or trailblazers, if you will, creating a new path for the next generation. For example, the Michael Jordan’s, Magic Johnson’s and Wayne Gretsky’s of the world are prime examples of trailblazers during their time. Trailblazers in sports come with great rarity. This rare breed of athletes transcends the game, making their impact on the sport and culture over time and leaving a lasting impression. In today’s sports world, we have the opportunity to witness the impact of two of the biggest and brightest trailblazers we have yet to come across.
Venus Williams and Serena Williams are infamously known as “the Williams Sisters”. The Williams sisters have built legendary careers, which are far from finished, that has witnessed Venus Williams win five Wimbledon appearances to go along with seven slams overall and Serena Williams setting the Australian open record by winning the open five times, not to mention her total of twelve grand slam titles. Aside from having storied careers at only the ripe young ages of 29 years-old (Venus) and 28 years-old (Serena), the Williams sisters have single handedly revived Women’s tennis.
It was the two young ladies from Compton, California with their tenacity, work ethic, determination, and will to win that put tennis at the forefront of the sports world. The Williams sisters are truly trailblazers of women’s tennis. They have used tennis to spearhead their entrepreneurial spirit and spark their business savvy getting involved with fashion, entertainment, even becoming part-owners of the NFL Miami Dolphins franchise. Serena Williams recently had a fashion line with Puma and currently has a line with Nike, which appears to be worth $40 million.
Before the Williams Sisters came around, their was a young and fresh new teen with a golf club that hit the scene ready to make his impact, Tiger Woods. The impact Tiger Woods made was not only on his own sport but on sports in general. Think about it, there would be no Lebron James without Tiger Woods. Tiger Woods broke down numerous barriers that allowed for the likes of Lebron James, Sidney Crosby, and almost every other young and talented athlete to endure the financial opportunities they have.
If you remember it was Tiger Woods, with a $40 million endorsement deal from Nike and another $20 million endorsement deal from Titleist before he hit his first professional golf tournament. I think it’s safe to say that Tiger Woods influenced Lebron James receiving a $90 million endorsement from Nike before bouncing an NBA ball in some kind of way and the NHL’s decision to make 22 year-old Sidney Crosby the face of their league. Aside from Tiger Woods’ recent personal issues that have been publicly displayed, he has transcended the role of an athlete and significantly impacted all sports sending everyone on the search to find the next “Tiger Woods”. Oh, and did I mention Tiger Woods has won 71 official PGA tour events and 14 majors? Legendary!
The notion of a superstar athlete was birthed by Magic Johnson, lived its adolescent years through the eyes of Michael Jordan, and became a mature adult through the likes of Tiger Woods.
If you devour through every athlete that has come through any and every sport, it is hard to find any other athlete that has impacted their sport more than Tiger Woods has in golf and the Williams sisters in Tennis. Yes, Lebron James is one of the biggest and brightest sports stars and will one day be spoken in the same breath as possibly being “the greatest” basketball player ever. However, has he been a trailblazer creating a brand new pathway for the next generation of athletes, or is he simply stepping in the footprints of Magic Johnson and Michal Jordan? His career is in no way, shape, or form close to being over so we shall see whether the imprint he leaves on the sport and culture outshines that of Magic and Jordan.
Tiger Woods and the Williams sisters have each catapulted their sports to a new level of mainstream. They have opened doors for other athletes in their sports and other sports to receive various opportunities. They each have changed the culture of their sports in ways that were once unimaginable but are now sheer reality.
This is a guest post written by Jonathan Velez
[Photo Credit: Williams Sisters – UrbanBelleMag.com | Tiger Woods – bestsportchannel.blogspot.com]