Watch List: ‘King Richard’ and the Awe-Inspiring Beginnings of Two Sports Icons - Arts & Culture

Will Smith plays the unconventional titular role.

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If you were fortunate enough to have been a tennis fan since the 90s, you would have witnessed the beginnings of Venus and Serena Williams.

The then hair-beaded sister act—perhaps two of the most extraordinarily gifted athletes of all time—seemingly came out of nowhere. But, with their relentless drive for success, each became a superstar so renowned that Google searches would point to them first only a few letters into their unique names.  

Vision for the future

Behind that brazen take down of the global sport was their father Richard Williams, a man from Louisiana man who would set the path for his daughters an early age.  After watching Romanian tennis player Virginia Ruzici competing on TV, he wrote a 78-page plan for his daughters years when his older daughter Venus was still four-years-old.

With nary a title to his children’s names, Richard predicted early on that they would be in number one and number two in the world at some point, and competing for the biggest titles in tennis. Many dismissed him as an eccentric who never played tennis professionally, spoke too brashly, and didn’t know a thing about the sport.

But those same people were forced to eat their words when each of Richard’s predictions came true, starting with the 2001 US Open Women’s Singles Final when Venus beat Serena in straight sets. Following that final, the two would dominate the tour in the next few years with unmatched level of play and athleticism.

And because of their establishment-pushing exploits, they ended up changing the sport, and making a lasting impression on the world.  

Unconventional coach

But it is not his daughters, but Richard who is the centerpiece of an upcoming biopic by Warner Brothers Pictures. The movie, King Richard, just recently dropped its first trailer, and the themes it depicts in the two-and-half-minute clip still resonates today.

Two-time Oscar nominee Will Smith plays the atypical titular role. Under the direction of Reinaldo Marcus Green (Monsters and Men), the man is depicted as someone driven by a clear vision and who considered unconventional methods as the only way to shake the status quo.  

Aunjanue Ellis (If Beale Street Could Talk, Quantico) plays the girls’ mom, Oracene Williams, who would also coach the girls later on after the couple’s divorce. Saniyya Sidney (Hidden Figures, Fences) stars as Venus while Demi Singleton (Godfather of Harlem) takes on the role of Serena, who is currently a title shy of being proclaimed as sole record holder for most major titles.

Both Venus and Serena served as executive producers alongside James Lassiter, Adam Merims, Lynn Harris, Allan Mandelbaum, Jon Mone, Peter Dodd, and Jada Pinkett Smith. The screenplay was written by Zach Baylin.

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