Atlanta, GA — “King Richard” is the relatable story of how a father’s love, dedication and faith coupled with one family’s resilience, propelled the careers of two of the greatest tennis players to ever touch the court.
Based on the true story of Venus and Serena’s father, Richard Williams, the biopic showcases this family’s unshakable courage to move across the country to ultimately follow their dream. To the rest of the world, he is known as the man who coached his two young daughters to stardom, but to Venus and Serena, he is known as the protector, best friend and confidant.
Born and raised in the segregated south in Shreveport, Louisiana, he experienced the traumatic realities of blatant racism and poverty and was determined for him and his family not to live to be the status quo.
For the Williams family, raising five girls in Compton, California was far from easy. Trying to keep their kids off the streets, he and his wife taught themselves how to play tennis and then passed it on to their children. Although tennis is well known to be a white elite sport, they were certain it would secure a stable future for their kids.
The movie spotlights Richard and his personal journey to dealing with his childhood trauma and fears through fatherhood, The film also eloquently captures the essence of the girls’ mother, Oracene Price. Often undervalued and confined to her role as mother and wife, the movie gives her character depth and provides the viewer profound insight into who she is. Emphasizing her individuality and contribution to Venus and Serena’s success.
Working overtime as a registered nurse, taking care of the daughters, maintaining a household and coaching two of them in between, Price was the backbone of the family.
In an interview, Aunjanue Ellis, who portrays Price said, “She was equally their coach as much as their father. We [black women] are erased so often that people have no idea what we actually do. They put us behind these boxes and what I wanted to do was that when they read that she was a coach, that I can say yes indeed that’s who she was.”
Aside from the mother’s role as a coach, she taught the girls to prioritize their mental health and prepared them how to navigate the world as Black women, which played a crucial part in their development early in their careers. Together, both parents stressed humility, integrity, and honesty in their home as the standard archetype model for success.
“King Richard” transcends above the realm of tennis. Through overcoming themes of fear, guilt, disappointment, and unforgiveness this story demonstrates the powerful dynamic of family, the importance of self awareness, and discipline.
The movie is available Friday in theaters and on HBO Max.