Elise is her sixth grader who travels 15 minutes each week for tennis class at the Towson YMCA. She was introduced to the game three years ago in her southeast Baltimore neighborhood of Canton.
"When she was a very small girl, we started swimming and later we started to do tennis," says Elise's grandfather, Hubert Williams. He is the president of the Police Foundation in Washington, D.C.
"The discipline associated with sports is the same type of discipline that you need when you're going to improve academically. You need to be focused. You need to be able to keep to your schedule. And we have problems today with our young people eating too much bad food, not getting enough exercise, and it impacts on their health," he says.
"I have a magazine that has Serena and Venus and it talks about how they exercise and everything," adds Elise.
"She saw them on television. She saw the struggle that they made to reach the top and she watched it with bated breath as they became the dominant players in women's tennis. And she loved it. So that inspired her and she came to me and said, 'You have to teach me to play tennis,'" notes her grandfather.
And Williams-Spencer says she sees the changes in Elise's confidence and self-motivation. "She's a little different to be so young, to understand the game, the history of Serena and Venus. She is using their morals..." However, she says Elise's interest in the game suddenly waned when her progress on the court slowed early this year. So to encourage Elise, she wrote to The Early Show.
On Wednesday, with the help of nine-time Olympic gold medalist Carl Lewis, Elise met with the Williams sisters at a news conference for McDonald's World Children's Day in New York's Times Square.
Elise also got advice from Lewis who stopped by the show to take her to the event.
"It sounds like you're on a good mark right here and you have a beautiful mother who is in charge of you. Elise, understand to work hard, be dedicated, stay in school, and understand you have good days and bad days," he said.
Before meeting her idols, she got to talk to them from The Early Show studio, thanks to the magic of technology.
"We can't wait to meet you, Elise. We're really looking forward to it," said the Williams sisters. They also gave her mom some advice,
"Whatever Elise wants to do, just make sure that she has fun, and if you're not having fun, you shouldn't do anything that you're not enjoying. So just have fun," said Serena.
"Support her all the way," added Venus.
Elise also received a gift bag with the following items:
- Wilson tennis racquet, Puma tennis outfit and Reebok tennis sneakers from Venus and Serena Williams
- A week at the Nick Bollettieri Tennis Academy in Bradenton, Fla.
- Five tickets to the 2003 U.S. Open Tennis Championships and introduction to the Baltimore chapter of the Arthur Ashe Youth Tennis League from the U.S. Tennis Association.