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 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.”
Richard’s lessons set the groundwork for the titan that Serena is today – from family traditions to brand deals to how she carries herself as an entrepreneur and businesswoman. “Remember who you are. Remember where you came from. Stand tall and be proud in that,” said Richard in the film to his daughters as a constant reminder to always stay grounded. Whether it was their beloved days off at Disney World with the family to Richard teaching her how to drive, to Serena, it’s her long-lasting, authentic relationships that have fueled her career. A full-circle life moment – the car that Richard taught her to drive in was a Lincoln that she called Ginger, a car that stuck in the family for years that followed and was a vehicle for an abundance of family memories. Fast forward to present day, Serena is an ambassador for the automobile company and utilizes the car as her safe haven to decompress from the world around her. She joined the Lincoln family in 2018 in a moment she prides herself on, “Everyone I partner with, there’s real authenticity and a story behind it. Whether it was something I enjoyed when I was younger or over something I’ve aspired to have in my life.” She’s also gone on to start her own businesses that inspire her fans to share their stories and embrace their individuality too. In 2014, she launched Serena Ventures, a company that champions diverse, creative founders and powerful ideas by investing in their ideas. Since launch, she’s invested in over 50 companies including Every Mother, Honeylove, and Daily Harvest.
Then in 2018, she launched her eponymous clothing and jewelry brands, S by Serena and Serena Williams Jewelry, pieces aimed to empower her fans to feel their most confident and reflect their authentic selves. As a designer, she’s also created numerous collections for Nike as one of their sponsored athletes.
But she’s also working on her biggest project yet. Now a parent herself, Williams’ focus on her family has never been stronger. Mother to her four-year-old daughter Olympia Ohanian with Reddit founder Alexis Ohanian, Serena says she “hopes to be half the parent she saw her parents be.” While reflecting on what she wants viewers take away from her journey, she says, “Sometimes it takes a family. When you don’t have a family, a family can be replaced with friends and people that believe in you. It’s important to have a system like that. We couldn’t have done it without ours.”