King Richard (2021) Review

An intimate look into how Venus and Serena Williams became the tennis superstars we have known and loved for many years now, the tough beginnings and how their father Richard Williams had a plan all set for them, which included him coaching them and a big focus on school work all trying to keep them off the streets.


King Richard is a fantastic film that manages to capture the sacrifices and commitment that has to be made in order to make it to the very top in sport. It is not easy to even make it as a professional athlete let alone become one of the greatest in the world, for two sisters to achieve this is utterly remarkable and we get an inside look into those early years of Venus and Serena.

We see the fight from Richard to ensure that his children don’t end up on the streets and keeping them under a rather strict schedule, so much so a neighbour even reports the family to the police. Although she is very wrong with how it all looks, Venus and Serena want nothing more than to be coached and get better. Believing they have what it takes with the skills they have learnt so far for tennis from both parents. Richard and his plan includes getting them a coach, but with the financial troubles he really feels that it needs to be sold as a business opportunity and that they would be champions in the future.

Obviously that was going to be a very difficult sell considering all parents believe that their children are the best and will do anything they can for them to get better and succeed. Something that is different for Richard is that he is not shy in going into the rather exclusive tennis clubs. Managing to get a coach to watch the girls hit a few tennis balls over the net and Paul Cohen eventually agrees, but he will only coach one and that goes to Venus. She even starts playing in junior matches and winning a lot, we see a little bit of how Serena is happy for her sister but wants to be out playing as well.

Especially after the big move and as they got older with Richard refusing to let them play in the juniors matches, very concerned that they will burn out and then have their professional career come and go in a very short period of time. When watching it was very frustrating to think of the hard work from the girls and coaches but then thinking of the bigger picture did it actually help them to not burn out?

Throughout the film we do get more of a focus on Venus but given she is the older of the two she naturally went first with it all and we see Serena more in the shadows and waiting, we all now know just how successful they both were (and still are of course). Something I thought was outstanding for the film was the casting of Saniyya Sidney as Venus and Demi Singleton as Serena when we see the real photos at the end of the film, they were great matches. Not only were they very good lookalikes but fantastic young actresses who were so engaging.

A career best for Will Smith? It certainly looks to be that way, he really did become Richard and put his all into this role, the way he moved and the way he spoke he became that character, that man and now somewhat legend. He had to be very strong in order for the film to work and I think it more than worked considering I forgot I was watching Will Smith, at times it is difficult when a big name actor takes on this type of role in a biopic but I really thought Smith was great.

I work in Sport and love seeing all different types of sports on screen and this one really does have some truly outstanding and special moments. The Williams sisters are two of the best female athletes of all time, actually two of the greatest athletes of all time! Part of me does wish it didn’t have their fathers name in the title, but I guess his drive in these early years helped set them up on the right path towards success.

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