Get to Know Richard Williams, Father of Venus and Serena, from the People Who Know Him Best

Williams, father to tennis legends Venus and Serena, coached his daughters to become two of the most accomplished athletes in sports history. Get to know the visionary, who was inducted into the American Tennis Association's Hall of Fame in 2017, from those who are closest to him

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Richard Williams, Venus and Serena Williams
Venus, Richard and Serena Williams. Paul Harris/Online USA/ Getty

"My dad was and still is way before his time. You see, when someone is different—when they don't act or look how a person assumed they would—the first reaction is often fear. They think, How do we break them? My dad anticipated that, but he would not allow himself or his family to be broken."

Serena Williams to GQ in September

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"Richard told me, early on—he goes, 'Rick, not only will my kids be number one, they're going to make so much money they're not going to know what to do with it. And, not only will there be a movie about my daughters, there's going to be a movie about me and they're going to name it King Richard.' This was in 1991. He told me this."

— USPTA Hall of Fame tennis coach Rick Macci, who trained Venus and Serena in their early years, in a July interview

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KING RICHARD
Chiabella James/Warner Bros. Pictures

"He was one of the most misunderstood people during that time. Nobody got it. He was so far ahead in terms of the balance between pushing and protecting, [and] had a savant-level comprehension of when those moments were."

King Richard star Will Smith to Entertainment Weekly in November

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richard williams

"Nobody's perfect. But the thing that I know for sure in learning about Richard was that he loved those girls and he gave them time. Richard Williams and Oracene Price gave those kids time and their full-time job was making sure that those kids had a life."

King Richard director Reinaldo Marcus Green to the Los Angeles Times in September, of Venus and Serena's parents

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"Venus goes out of the gate — the first maybe five yards ... walks on her hands. The next five yards, she goes into backward cartwheels, and I went, 'What is this all about?' I went up to Richard [and said], 'I'm just telling you right now, you got the next female Michael Jordan on your hands.' He put his arm around me and said, 'No brother man. I got the next two.' "

— USPTA Hall of Fame tennis coach Rick Macci in a July interview

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Britain Tennis Eastbourne
Sang Tan/AP/REX/Shutterstock

"There's a method to his madness. Everything he says is very well thought out and intends a certain result. Ninety-nine times out of 100, he gets that result. Don't ever underestimate Richard."

— Keven Davis, the family's then-agent and legal adviser, to Sports Illustrated in May 1999

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"He always brought their books to the court under the canopy in case it rained, he goes, 'Take your books go up in Rick's office and study.' These are probably the things that people never knew but you're getting an inside look because there was no one else involved in this. A lot of people might have hit with the Williamses but no one was in that circle for four years like Rick Macci and I'm telling you right now: one of the most amazing dads I've ever been around."

— USPTA Hall of Fame tennis coach Rick Macci in a July interview

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"I'm proud of my dad. He is an unbelievable visionary — and I think Serena and I understood that even when we were small."

Venus Williams to Oprah in March 2003

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richard williams

"Our father doesn't get enough credit. He showed us how to serve — and we have the biggest serves in women's tennis."

Serena Williams to Oprah in March 2003

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richard williams

"It's really about my dad and how he literally changed the game, he's a revolutionary kind of person and I love him to death."

— Venus Williams on The Kelly Clarkson Show in January

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"Richard and I had ups and downs over a lot of things, but he's always been an incredible father to those two girls. If he'd wanted more money, he could've had them playing more. But I can remember 50 times when he called off practice because Venus's grades were down. They'd be in my office studying French, and I'd be saying, 'Hey, we've got to work.' "

— USPTA Hall of Fame tennis coach Rick Macci to Sports Illustrated in May 1999

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richard williams

"He's always thinking on a different level. Even now, he is always thinking five steps above everyone else. And the way he taught tennis with techniques, the way he pushed myself and my sister, it was a great opportunity to tell his story.

"There would be no Venus and Serena if it wasn't for Richard."

Serena Williams to R29Unbothered in August

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The Championships - Wimbledon 2012: Day Twelve
Venus Williams, Richard Williams and Serena Williams in 2012. Julian Finney/Getty

"The impact of Richard Williams' coaching on the game of tennis cannot be understated. Venus and Serena have set such an important example, especially for Black girls, of what is possible to accomplish."

— Baltimore Mayor Catherine Pugh while awarding Richard Williams a medal from the city in 2017

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"I'm just telling you, whether people want to look at the good the bad the ugly or whatever, because at the end of the day he was an amazing father. [If] the girls didn't want to play, [they] didn't have to play ... If [Serena] didn't want to play, [he'd say] oh let's go to the beach, let's go the mall. And you know what? That's not a world-class coach, that's a world-class father. He knew that was more important and left the heavy lifting to me. He would even have them go home at night and do interviews in front of the tripod. He would ask them questions after dinner, even when they were 11, 12, 13. He was telling him what was coming down the road."

— USPTA Hall of Fame tennis coach Rick Macci in a July interview

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