“Straight outta Compton.” That’s how Kalli Minor explains where she’s from. The mean streets of Los Angeles are hardly known for their country club sports, but that hasn’t stopped 14 year old Kalli— just like it didn’t stop her heroes Serana and Venus Williams. “My goal is to be the greatest tennis player of all time, just like Serena Williams.” When she was six, Kalli saw Serana playing tennis on television. It was the first time she’d seen a person of color playing tennis and she decided right there she wanted to be just like her. It took some work, but she finally convinced her dad to buy her a racket and “some of those little fuzzy balls.” At the age of 8, she told her dad she wanted to start taking her tennis seriously. To become really, truly great. Her dad began enrolling in some nearby tennis camps and was surprised at his daughter’s fierce determination. They found coaches, graduated to more elite clubs, and began training and competing in earnest. Fitness in the morning. Drills in the afternoon. Every day. The work yielded results, and Kalli started winning tournaments and gaining attention. One day, Serena Williams commented on her Instagram: “You could be better than me one day.” That lit a fire under Kalli and since then she’s been more focused on her goals than ever. Kalli recently launched her own instagram series “Kalli Is Coming,” pledging to post a video every week until she turns pro. “I don’t just want to become number one in the world,” says Kalli. “I want to break records. I want to do something no one has ever done.”
She never gives up and she always has confidence. That’s why she always succeeds. Also, she was one of the first brown girls I ever saw playing tennis which is what made me want to play in the first place. In the beginning, I didn’t even know that she was also from Compton.
I got serious when I was eight or nine years old. At that point in time, I just felt ready to take it to the next level and become the best. That’s when I decide to really put my heart and soul into the sport to become the best.
Growing up, tennis wasn't around me. In Compton, you have courts, but they’re usually locked up and trashed. It’s not like basketball when you can just start shooting. In tennis you need a coach and someone to play with. Tennis is a little more technical. So I had to go outside of Compton to get my tennis.
When you love something, you don’t care what other people think about it. It made me happy so I didn’t think about it. But at school once they had a career day and said to come as whatever we wanted, so I came as a tennis player and the teacher said, “That’s not a career. You can’t do that.” I was like, How is that now a career? And that made me think…and then I thought, Okay, well, wait til you all see me on TV one day.
If you really want to improve your game, you have to be into it. You can’t just say you want to improve and then not put the effort in. Whatever you do, if you want to improve you need to constantly be doing it to get the results. You have to put the work in for that to come through.
I want to play Serena Williams in the final of the US Open and beat her.
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