His story is at the heart of the new movie “King Richard,” which premieres Friday in US theaters and HBO Max, and was made with the support of the Williams family and a rousing song by Beyonce.
Though Venus and Serena Williams are now household names and icons of black women’s empowerment, the story of how they reached the heights of sporting fame from a hardscrabble neighborhood in Los Angeles is barely known.
“It’s like asking someone to believe you have the next two Mozarts in your house,” an early skeptic tells him.
“Richard had this vision and actually wrote a 75 or 80 page manifesto before Serena and Venus were born that they would have two more children and that they would become the top two tennis players in the world,” said Tony Goldwyn. , who plays Paul Cohen, their first professional coach.
Williams was a great personality who constantly challenged Cohen’s training methods and technique.
“The real Paul told me that’s why he loved Richard. He knew where it came from, a place of love and devotion,” Goldwyn said.
One of Venus and Serena’s three older half-sisters, Isha Price contributed to the script early on, providing details and memories that made the film the family’s story. Richard Williams has been in poor health for years and did not participate.
Venus Williams said she got emotional watching it. “Like teary eyes, and the moment, the family moments of togetherness and the father-daughter moments are like, ooh,” she said.
While the film uses authentic players as doubles for much of the action, actors Demi Singleton (Serena) and Saniyya Sidney (Venus) had to undergo months of intense training to learn how to hit the ball, serve and the type of power tennis. playing young sisters were known for.
“They are such extraordinary people and they are very kind. Such big hearts,” Sidney said. “They gave us great advice on how they grow up in this world and how they felt when they were a kid, and how to always make sure you stay close to your family.”