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Before Superstardom, Williams Sisters Stunned On Compton’s Courts

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On Stockton Street, in Compton, Calif., there’s a small white stucco house with a chain-link fence and an old tree out front. There’s isn’t a sign or plaque in the yard, and there aren’t any tour groups taking photos. There’s nothing here to indicate that this house, in this quiet

neighborhood, was the childhood home of two of the best athletes of all time. Long before the U.S. Open this week, before the Nike and Gatorade sponsorships and before the stardom, a young Venus and Serena Williams were given their first tennis rackets here.

The girls cut their teeth on courts around Compton. And to this day, the Williams sisters are a source of pride in the city.

“To be able to say that they’re from the town that you grew up in — who wouldn’t be inspired by them?” says Janna Zurita, a Compton councilwoman. She was born and raised in Compton, and says she used to watch the Williams sisters train.

“A lot of the little kids here in the community, they look up to them and they think they’re great. I mean, they’re two beautiful women that changed the whole life of tennis,” Zurita says. “And they’re straight outta Compton.”

Their dad, Richard Williams, was their coach back then. He was known for being tough and pushing his daughters to perfection on the court — hours on the courts, day in, day out.

Some of the places where they’d practice were in rough neighborhoods, like East Rancho Dominguez Park, formerly known as East Compton Park. Today, the courts are repaved and there’s a new recreation center — but that’s not how it used to be. Training meant hitting hundreds of balls with enough force to break the strings on their racquets.

“Every other day, I was restringing my racquets,” Andre Barbee says. “My shoes, once a week. A hole right in my foot of my shoe. Used to tape them up.” They’d run drills up and down the court, honing their power at the baseline.

Barbee was a tennis prodigy himself, so when he faced Venus and Serena on the court, he had finally met his match. Venus wasn’t even a teenager yet. “I love them like my little sisters,” says Barbee. “And Richard Williams, I loved him like a father. He was like a dad, you know? I miss training with them. At the time, I didn’t have a high school diploma. And [Richard] told me, ‘Promise me that you get your high school diploma.’

“Richard? I kept my promise,” he says. “I have my high school diploma.”

Barbee doesn’t play much tennis these days. But on this court, I can see him reliving that year he spent training with Venus and Serena Williams. And for the record, the last time he played Serena, they never finished their match.

“She didn’t beat me yet,” Barbee says. “So Serena, if you’re hearing this, you still owe me a match. I can still play. It’s just, I can’t play long. I can play a set. Come on Serena, give me one set.”

Barbee starts laughing.

He’s ready for a rematch on the tennis courts at the corner of Compton Boulevard and Atlantic Avenue, where it all started.

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Meghan Markle could ‘trigger alarm bells’ at Palace with leaked Princess Eugenie story

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MEGHAN MARKLE’S relationship with Princess Eugenie will “ring alarm bells” after her recent TV appearance, a royal commentator claims.

During her controversial appearance on the Ellen show, The Duchess of Sussex shared a story about a time she and Prince Harry attended a Halloween party with Eugenie and her husband Jack Brooksbank. But royal commentator Neil Sean said this will have worried the Royal Family who are “very nervous about anything getting out to Meghan and Harry”. He said: “As we know, Meghan then decided to describe her friendship with Princess Eugenie and her husband Jack, which goes back quite a long way, seemingly. But that really did trigger some alarm bells for senior members of the British monarchy over here.”

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Kate and Prince William tipped for ‘bump in the road’ when Prince Charles King

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KATE, Duchess of Cambridge, and Prince William are set to hit a “bump in the road” when Prince Charles becomes King, relationship expert Neil Wilkie has claimed to Express.co.uk.

It comes after the BBC’s royal documentary, ‘The Princes and the Press’, aired on Monday this week.

The film, presented by the BBC’s media editor Amol Rajan, reportedly shines a spotlight on the relationship between William, Prince Harry, and the media.

However, it drew a furious response from the Cambridges and other senior royals, who accused the BBC of propagating “overblown and unfounded claims”.

The row is unusual for William and Kate, who usually steer clear of controversies compared to some other royals.

Relationship expert Neil Wilkie has analysed the couple’s relationship for Express.co.uk, tipping them for a “bump in the road” once Charles succeeds his mother, the Queen, as monarch.

The expert claimed that Kate and William, who tied the knot in 2011, have been “fairly plain sailing” in their relationship so far.

However, he said: “The next bump in the road will be when Queen Elizabeth dies, and Charles becomes king.

“That’s going to be the point at which William will have a clearer idea of how many years it’s going to be before he becomes King.”

The Queen has been resting recently after it is thought she was advised by doctors to pare back her busy recent schedule.

Britain’s longest-serving monarch stayed overnight in hospital for the first time in eight years last month as she underwent preliminary medical checks.

Her Majesty’s diary has been cleared of major events, including her appearance at the COP26 climate change summit in Glasgow.

She was also absent from the Remembrance Sunday wreath-laying service at the Cenotaph in London after spraining her back.

Charles is sometimes reported to want a slimmed-down monarchy compared to the Queen and is said to be planning a major shake-up of the Royal Family when he becomes King.

Mr Wilkie said: “There’ll be a change in the way in which the royalty governs the country because Charles has got different ideas to Queen Elizabeth.

“So, it’ll be interesting to see whether King Charles just holds the fort for William or whether he tries to be the king that he’s always wanted to be and maybe creates a more difficult handover for William.”

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Harry and Meghan backed to ‘reconcile’ with Royal Family as Queen’s reign nearing end

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PRINCE Harry and Meghan Markle have been backed to “reconcile” with the Royal Family in the future.

The Duke and Duchess of Sussex stepped back from royal duties in 2020, in a move dubbed Megxit. Meghan Markle, 40, and Prince Harry, 37, relocated to California, to pursue a “financially independent” life away from the Firm.

Since moving to the US with their first child Archie, now two, the couple also welcomed their new daughter to the world.

Lilibet “Lili” Diana was born in June and shares her moniker with her 95-year-old great-grandmother the Queen.

Since the Sussexes move to the US, they’ve not made a return trip to the UK as a family of four.

Harry has returned to the UK on two occasions since stepping away from royal duties, but never with his wife or children in tow.

He returned in April for a short visit to attend the funeral of the late Prince Philip, who died aged 99.

He also returned in July to unveil a statue of his late mother Princess Diana, with his brother Prince William, 39.

Both appearances notably came following the bombshell interview he and Meghan did with US TV chat show host Oprah Winfrey back in March.

During their appearance, the couple made a series of seismic claims about their time as members of the Firm.

Following the interview, a statement was released by Buckingham Palace noting that “recollections may vary” but that the issues would be addressed privately.

Royal historian Dr Ed Owens however has claimed that the Queen’s recent bout of ill-health, and her reign nearing its end, could see the Sussexes “reconcile” with the royals.

He told Express.co.uk: “Harry will definitely be at his grandmother’s funeral when she does finally die.

“And if the relationship between Meghan and the British Royal Family has improved by then, I see no reason why she wouldn’t attend either.

“However, time will tell.”

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