Serena and Venus Williams Praise 'King Richard', Call Biopic a 'Perfect Way' to Tell Family Story

"When we heard that Will wanted to do it, it was like, 'Oh my God this movie is going to be the real deal.' Whatever film he's in, it's the real deal," Venus Williams said

Photo: Chiabella James/Warner Bros. Pictures

Serena Williams and Venus Williams are endorsing the Will Smith-helmed film about their father and childhood tennis coach, Richard Williams.

Speaking with Entertainment Weekly for its latest cover story, the sisters and Smith praised the story of King Richard, which follows the Williams family's start in the sport and their rise to ground-breaking champions status. Venus and Serena are played by actresses Saniyya Sidney and Demi Singleton, respectively.

"When we heard that Will wanted to do it, it was like, 'Oh my God this movie is going to be the real deal.' Whatever film he's in, it's the real deal. We got the sense of this is gonna be big, this is gonna be a serious film," Venus, 41, said about the actor, who previously portrayed other real-life public figures like Chris Gardner and Muhammad Ali.

"I love that it captured the innocence — the innocence we still hang on to, actually. It's kind of difficult for me to say, 'Oh, this film shows me.' Because me is Serena. Me is my sisters. And there's no me without her, and I could have never done what I've been able to achieve on the court without her because I was also watching her and learning," Venus added.

King Richard December 2021 Cover
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With her older sister sharing compliments about her, in return, Serena called Venus "my hero" and someone who blazed a trail for future tennis players of color.

"I feel completely different than Venus. Actually, I feel like the film actually tells her story, in a way that no one can ever really tell what she went through in being the first Black player to really step out there. You see the impact that it has had and all the people that are coming up after myself and Venus. There would be no Serena if there wasn't a Venus," Serena, 40, said.

"She was my hero and she still is my hero. She'll do something and I'm like, 'I'm doing that too.' She's still my hero, she really was able to open the way for me and go through doors. Even though I was right behind her, it's still if you think about opening the door, [for] the second person it's a lot easier. Venus is so humble, she doesn't really take credit for that. She burst open that door and I ran through," she continued.

King Richard illustrates Venus and Serena's dominance in their sport, but the sisters said the Reinaldo Marcus Green-directed movie is also about their journey as a family. And for Serena, the film is something that she can show her 4-year-old daughter, whom she shares with husband Alexis Ohanian.

"She gets to see what Mommy was like. I always wondered how I would explain my life. Like, how will I even start that conversation? This is the perfect way," said the mom of one, who "teared up" when she first saw King Richard, for which their family invited screenwriter Zach Baylin and producer Tim White to the 2018 U.S. Open to get to know them.

As for whether or not their father Richard, 79, has seen the film, Venus and Serena told EW they weren't certain he had viewed it yet. The outlet reported that COVID-19 kept Richard away from the set and he did not participate in the interview due to health issues.

Furthering echoing how King Richard is the real deal, Serena said the caliber of tennis portrayed on screen is authentic. "Some sports are a little bit easier than tennis to make look real. But fellow tennis players can see when it's not the real deal. I think it was pretty nailed [here]," she said.

King Richard is in theaters and on HBO Max on Nov. 19.

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