Serena Williams and Ruia Morrison (Photos L-R: Hanna Peters/Getty, courtesy of Sky TV, Morrison family collection)
Serena Williams and Ruia Morrison (Photos L-R: Hanna Peters/Getty, courtesy of Sky TV, Morrison family collection)

ĀteaFebruary 3, 2020

Scratched: Ruia Morrison was New Zealand’s own Serena Williams

Serena Williams and Ruia Morrison (Photos L-R: Hanna Peters/Getty, courtesy of Sky TV, Morrison family collection)
Serena Williams and Ruia Morrison (Photos L-R: Hanna Peters/Getty, courtesy of Sky TV, Morrison family collection)

From tennis champions to dance craze inventors, Scratched celebrates New Zealand sporting heroes who never got their due – but whose legacies deserve to be in lights. This month, Ruia Morrison meets Serena Williams.

Watch the original Ruia Morrison episode of Scratched here.

Watch this episode on TVNZ On Demand.

At the ASB Classic winner’s ceremony, Serena Williams, having just won her first title since 2017, warmly greeted a small Māori woman on the court. They shared words in each other’s ears before Williams was adorned with the new winners’ korowai.

The woman was Ruia Morrison and the cloak was the Ruia Morrison korowai, woven to honour one of New Zealand’s greatest tennis champions.

In March 2019, Morrison featured in episode one of Scratched, speaking from her home and marae in Rotorua about her illustrious career in the sport. A national singles champion at age 20, Morrison was on a plane to Wimbledon for the 1957 grand slam tournament, her trip funded not by Tennis New Zealand but by her wider Māori community. It’s been 63 years since then and Morrison has remained the matriarch of Māori tennis but largely unknown to the rest of New Zealand.

In a special follow-up episode of Scratched, Morrison attends the ASB Classic as a former champion and honoured guest, experiencing the attention and recognition she deserved all those decades ago. Her playing style and legacy have been compared to Serena Williams and on that sunny January evening, the two legends shared the court they’d both conquered.

Scratched:Aotearoa’s Lost Sporting Legends is made with the support of NZ On Air.

Illustrations by Sharon Lam

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