Stevenson takes stance on 'racist' flag

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The Independent Online

Although Alexandra Stevenson's singles tennis at the Family Circle Cup in Hilton Head Island is over, her political impact in South Carolina could continue.

Stevenson has been invited by Gov. Jim Hodges to speak to the General Assembly as it struggles with the Confederate flag controversy.

"I think that's going to happen this week, depending on my schedule (here)," Stevenson said on Tuesday after losing her opening match to Russia's Anastasia Myskina, 6-4, 6-3.

Stevenson is still playing doubles.

The 19-year-old daughter of basketball Hall of Famer Julius Erving put herself in the center of the controversy, meeting with Hodges in his office Monday to explain why she decided to play at the Family Circle Cup despite the NAACP's tourism boycott of the state to force the removal of the Confederate flag from the Statehouse dome, where it has flown since 1962.

"It was wonderful to be a 19-year-old sitting in the governor's office having a 1-on-1 discussion," she said. "I don't think many people have done that."

Stevenson, whose mother is white, said she has not spoken with her friend, Serena Williams, the first black woman to win a Grand Slam event in more than 40 years when she won the US Open last September. Williams was entered at the Family Circle, but withdrew last week to support the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People's efforts to remove the flag.

Supporters say the flag represents Southern heritage, while opponents say it is a symbol of oppression and slavery. The South Carolina Senate approved a bill last week to remove the flag and place a similar one next to a monument to Confederate soldiers on the Statehouse grounds.

The NAACP has rejected the compromise offered in the Senate plan saying that putting a similar flag at the Confederate soldier monument makes the banner too visible. A House subcommittee will take up that bill on Wednesday.