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Tebbitt's tennis acid test

TSONGA: Landmark victory

JUST WHEN you feared that the Williams sisters’ quiet exit out of Wimbledon would mark the end of black domination of the tennis tournament, along comes Jo-Wilfried Tsonga. He sent the greatest tennis player ever, Roger Federer, packing from Centre Court last week. I danced his victory jig across my living room. Because it meant that, having failed this year to get the little ones over to south London to be inspired by the sport, I would have another chance next year.

You see, I just don't know whether a Wimbledon victory by a black player is less or more important in inspiring my daughters than a British victory. After all my daughters are black and British. And I’m not sure which side of this dual culture is more influential. We know for a fact that the tennis success of British players encourages kids all across the country to pick up a racquet and try to be "just like Andy". Andy Murray himself was influenced by the relative success of his predecessor as British number one, Tim Henman. There is a mathematical formula that equates the success of British sports people generally on the international stage, with the take-up of the sport amongst youngsters.


But when Usain Bolt wins the 100 metre gold at London 2012 next year, will that make more of an impact on my daughters than a British athlete, say Dwain Chambers, in the unlikely event that he is allowed to represent Britain in the Games? Of course both Bolt and Chambers are black. But Chambers is also British. I'm just not sure if Chambers' nationality will swing my kids' support his way.

If blackness has nothing to do with it, I am sure that Tem and 'L' will pass former Conservative Party chairman Norman Tebbitt's acid test every time.

But a major dilemma for us middle class parents bringing up our black kids in white Britain is whether we should put all our eggs in the British basket or whether what will really make a difference to my daughters is the visibility of black achievement. This goes to the very heart of growing up black in Britain. And, I'll be honest, I don’t have the answer. If you do, please let me know.

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