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King Richard

A look at how tennis superstars Venus and Serena Williams became who they are after the coaching from their father Richard Williams.

The story of tennis stars Venus and Serena Williams is told from the perspective of their ever-believing father in . Richard Williams () lives in Compton, California with his wife Brandy (), three step-daughters, and two daughters Venus () and Serena (). From the very beginning, Richard believed that Venus and Serena were going to be tennis champions and he works hard to pitch his daughters still to every coach who would listen. Finally, Paul Cohen () agrees to coach just Venus, leading to her winning a number of junior championships. However, with his sights set larger, Richard moves both Venus and Serena to a training camp in Florida run by Rick Macci (), with Richard insisting that his daughters don't play again until they are ready to go pro.

King Richard is a sports biopic directed by Reinaldo Marcus Green, which tells the story of how Venus and Serena Williams became tennis stars, told from the perspective of their father Richard. When he is not coaching his daughters at tennis, Richard works a job as a security guard and his biggest dream is that his daughters have a life outside the ghetto. Richard stubbornly refuses to allow Venus and Serena's tennis careers to take precedent over their education and family. However, when Venus believes she is ready for a big tournament, Richard has to reluctantly allow his daughter to follow her dreams.

With a running time of 2h 24m, King Richard does take its time to truly get going, with much of the first half of the film spent emphasizing why Richard Williams want a better future for his daughters, whether it be violent hoodlums near the tennis court or the nosey neighbour who calls the police and social services on Richard. It isn't really until the family moves to Florida to work with Rich Macci that King Richard finally starts to pick up its stride.

When compared with the archival footage of the year Richard Williams that is shown at the end of King Richard, it is quite apparent that Will Smith disappears in his portrayal of the family patriarch, who believed that Venus and Serena Williams were going to be tennis champions before they were even born. It is undoubtedly an interesting direction for a sports biopic to focus on that star's father, whether then their own accolades. However, Richard Williams played a crucial role in the development of Venus and Serena and it ends up giving King Richard a bit more emotional weight.

Despite perhaps being half an hour or so too long, King Richard still ends up being an emotional and inspirational biopic of Venus and Serena Williams and their always-believing father.

Trailer for King Richard

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Sean Patrick Kelly
Sean Patrick Kelly
Sean Patrick Kelly is a freelance film critic and blogger based in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.