“King Richard” tells the heartfelt story of the Williams’ sisters rise to tennis stardom


Photo from YouTube

Richard Williams playing with his daughters, Serena and Venus.

Yael Greenblum, Reporter

“King Richard”, a new movie released in theaters on Nov. 19, tells the story of tennis legends Serena and Venus Williams. It provides an exciting and factual history to their tennis stardom and explaining how they overcame being poor and black in a rich, white ecosystem. 

The movie was named after Richard Williams, coach and father to the Williams sisters. It shows glimpses of his parenting style, both on the tennis courts and in academics. 

Since before the girls were even born, Richard had a plan for them to be professional tennis players. He and his wife struggled financially, and because the girls had both been athletes, Williams devised the plan for them to play tennis so that they could help provide for the family. He hung a poster on the fence of the public courts of their poor neighborhood; “If you fail to plan, you plan to fail”.

Williams, played by Will Smith, got his character down almost perfectly. If anything, Smith toned down Williams’ real-life eccentricity (that has been portrayed by the media). The movie justifies his relentless coaching style by highlighting the sisters’ successes at tournaments and incredible displays of tennis in front of their coaches. While other times the movie made his successes clear, his wacky management style didn’t always work.  

Saniyya Sidney and Demi Singleton, the actresses who respectively played Venus and Serena Williams, looked almost identical to each other. Unexpectedly, they also had what seemed to be incredible tennis skills. They learned how to imitate the footwork and strokes of young Venus and Serena. Watching them play was almost as mesmerizing as watching the Williams sisters in real life.   

While watching the movie, it is easy to feel as if you are a part of the Williams family. The movie shows the ups and downs in the parents’ marriage, both in coaching the girls and in their marital relationship. It shows the sisterly bonds between the Williams (who had 5 daughters), and how they supported each other throughout their childhoods and into young adulthood. 

However, there were some plot points that weren’t fully explained about the Williams sisters. Toward the second half of the movie, Serena became a flatter, less interesting character. This left tons of unanswered questions throughout the rest of the movie that were distracting to the plot points corresponding with Venus’ tennis career. 

This confusion could’ve been avoided if the trailer of the movie displayed more scenes of just Venus. While watching the trailer, it seemed as though the movie was about both the sisters, when in reality it really focused on Venus. 

Nevertheless, the storyline is strong. It showed how Venus Williams, with the help of her family, overcame incredible social, economic and racial barriers, while paving the path into the professional tennis world for both herself and her sister. 

Whether you are an avid tennis fan or don’t even know who the Williams sisters are, “King Richard” is a must see. It shares the story of the perseverance and empowerment of Venus and Serena Williams, and how hard they worked for the fame they have now.