How Richard Williams coached tennis legends Serena and Venus from babies

Richard Williams, Serena and Venus Williams father trained the tennis stars from infancy—a new film explores his impact on the sporting legends

Richard Williams Serena WIlliams Venus Williams
(Image credit: Clive Rose / Staff / Getty)

A new film called King Richard will explore the early life of Venus and Serena Williams and their father, Richard Williams, played by Will Smith.

Serena and Venus's father is portrayed as their biggest supporter, mentor, and coach who helps his daughters overcome adversity.

The film is set in Compton, California where Venus and Serena were raised and focuses on how their father helped the two young girls become tennis champions. 

The Warner Bros. synopsis for the film reads, "Based on the true story that will inspire the world, Warner Bros. Pictures King Richard follows the journey of Richard Williams, an undeterred father instrumental in raising two of the most extraordinarily gifted athletes of all time, who will end up changing the sport of tennis forever."


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In the trailer for the film, Will Smith who plays Richard makes powerful statements to his daughters, "The world ain't never had no respect for Richard Williams, but they're gonna respect ya'll." 

He continues, "the most dangerous creature on this whole earth is a woman who knows how to think, ain't nothing she can't do." 

But what was the man behind Will Smith's portrayal actually like? Here's everything you need to know about the real Richard Williams...

Richard Williams

(Image credit: Paul Harris / Contributor / Getty Images)

What was Richard Williams' job?

Richard Williams was a professional tennis coach. He coached both Venus and Serena and lead them both to various championships over his life.

According to Venus and Serena Williams: A Biography, by Jaqueline Edmondson, Richard decided that his daughters would become tennis stars after he watched Virginia Ruzici playing on television.

When did Richard start training Serena and Venus

It has been reported that Richard began coaching his two daughters when they were just four and a half years old. 

It was reported by the New Yorker in 2014 that when asked how he helped his daughters become so mentally tough, he replied, "Same way they got human tough. Running for their life! In the ghetto, no matter what color you are, you’re gonna run for your life.” 

He went on to say that despite toughening up his daughters, he does feel that he got them onto the court too young at the ripe age of four. 

"I feel like I started too early—at four years, six months, and one day,” he said. He continued to say that it's probably best to let kids grow up a little bit more and wait until they are older to begin seriously training. He suggested six would be the best age in hindsight.

Richard Williams

(Image credit: Jed Jacobsohn / Staff / Getty)

How many children does Richard have?

Richard has been married three times and has an unspecified number of children.

While married to his first wife, Betty Johnson, the couple had five biological children named, Sabrina, Richard III, Ronner, Reluss, and Reneeka. Richard was also the stepfather to Betty's daughter Katrina.

Richard then met Venus and Serena's mother Orancene 'Brandy' Price in 1979. Brandy already had three daughters and Richard then became their stepfather. Richard and Brandy then had two more daughters, Venus and Serena.

Richard was married for a third time in 2010 to a woman named Lakeisha. Lakeisha and Richard have one son together named Dylan who was born in 2012. The couple then divorced in 2017.

Aside from the children from his marriages, Richard also has an unspecified number of children. Such as Chavoita LeSane, Richard's 45-year-old son who was given his father's power of attorney in 2018. 

How old is Richard Williams?

Richard is 79 years old and was born on Valentine's Day in 1942. Richard was born in Shreveport Louisiana, he moved to Michigan in his later life and ultimately to California, where he currently resides.

An article from The Telegraph in 2018 revealed that Richard is not in the best health anymore. 

"Serena and Venus Williams’s father Richard has suffered a series of strokes which have left him barely able to speak," said the article. 

"Mr. Williams was known to be in poor health...he suffered two strokes and now relies on his son, Chavoita LeSane, 45, who has now been given power of attorney."

The article continued, "Mr. Williams suffers from a neurological condition which affects his mouth and limits his speech."

Richard Williams

(Image credit: Ken Levine / Staff / Getty)

The film that looks at the life of this extraordinary man and his legendary daughters will be released later this year.

Warner Brothers Pictures have confirmed that 18 November 2021 will be the official release date.

Laura Harman

Laura is the Entertainment Editor for woman&home who primarily covers television, film, and celebrity news. Laura loves drinking and eating and can often be found trying to get reservations at London's trendiest restaurants. When she's not wining and dining, Laura can also be found travelling, baking, and hiking with her dog.