Some may wonder why the long-awaited biopic about the legendary Williams sisters focused through the viewpoint of their father, Richard Williams. But to Serena Williams, that was the only way the story of their ascension to tennis royalty could have been told.
In King Richard, viewers get a personal look at the upbringing of two of the greatest athletes of our time and how their father’s 78-page plan to write them into history laid the groundwork for who they are today.
Starring Will Smith as the patriarch himself, alongside breakout stars Saniyya Sidney and Demi Singleton as Venus Williams and Serena, respectively, the movie lifts the veil on one of the sports’ most successful families, painting a new picture of a controversial figure in sports history.
Despite having no professional tennis training, Richard Williams coached his two daughters himself and notoriously became known for his overbearing ways and protective nature over his daughters.
Richard prevails as a heroic figure in King Richard, a barrier breaker who set out to change the face of the tennis industry and always put his daughters first, “People have gotten the story wrong, or media have portrayed my dad in an untruthful light. We want to get this story right,” said Serena.
Both Venus and Serena are listed as Executive Producers on the film, a title they only approved after seeing the movie for the first time.
To the tennis champion, the movie came out to be everything she wanted it to be and an homage to the father she wants the world to see, “I think it was a great opportunity to see how amazing African-American fathers are.
A lot of Black men aren’t seen in that light. And a lot of people think that my dad was a different character. He wanted us to have fun first over anything. That’s the thing that I loved most.”
A scene from the film that deeply resonated for Serena portrayed a moment when her sister Venus was being interviewed by then-ABC News correspondent John Mackenzie ahead of her first match.
In 1991, the family had relocated from Compton, California to Florida when Venus got the chance to train with Rick Macci at the Rick Macci Tennis Academy. When asked if she thought she could beat her opponent, Venus smiled and said, “I know I can beat her,” without a flinch.
Mackenzie immediately followed up, questioning her confidence, “You know you can beat her?” It was then that her father stepped in, asked the interviewer to cut the interview, and stated that he didn’t appreciate someone questioning a 14-year-old’s confidence. “When she says something, we done told you what’s happening.
You’re dealing with a little Black kid, and let her be a kid. She answered it with a lot of confidence. Leave that alone,” says Richard in the film while protecting his daughter. When asked about the piece of advice she holds dear from her father, Serena reflects on his strength, “I love his strength. I love how strong he taught us to be, and not to accept anything less than what we deserve.”