Is 'The Williams Method' faithful to Richard Williams, the father of Serena and Venus?

Is ‘The Williams Method’ faithful to Richard Williams, the father of Serena and Venus?

Richard Williams, with his flaws and his virtues, is just as the Will Smith movie describes him. What the film lacks is the racist view that the tennis world and the media offered of him for years. And yes, Richard Williams is alive.

 

After seeing the movie The Williams Method and the interpretation of Will Smith it is logical that you wonder how faithful the actor’s representation of Richard Williams, the father of Venus and Serena, and whether or not that real person resembles what you just saw on screen. Since this biopic has the approval of the Williams family and stops the coming-of-age story before Venus and Serena Williams hit the pro circuit (long before Serena breaks out, before the furious press criticism of the way managing the career of their daughters, before the divorce of the marriage, before the incontestable success of Venus and Serena…) normally, you show a certain suspicion.

You should also know that although the film has met with the approval of the family, it has not with Richard’s, that he hasn’t been involved in the process and didn’t see the movie until it was released (basically he didn’t want to see it and see who’s the good guy who talks Mr. Williams into doing something he doesn’t want to do). And, yes, another question you ask yourself at the end of the film is if Arantxa Sánchez Vicario stopped that match to go to the bathroom and break the rhythm of Venus Williams, but we have already answered that.

The answer to the first question is simple: the portrayal of Richard Williams cannot get any closer to the real person. He does not hide anything because there is nothing to hide: the stubbornness, the planning before the girls are born, the ambition for his daughters (all of them) to lead a better life than the one he led as a child, the synchronization with his wife in the Family goals, his previous failed marriage, and his three other children… You probably think the real Richard Williams was more controversial than he was, has been, and will be. But your memory fails you. What’s more, your memory is conditioned by the biased view of Richard Williams that the media have given.

Throughout the careers of Venus and Serena Williams, headlines such as “Richard Williams, father of Venus breaks out in (write your favorite tournament here, mainly Indian Wells)” made headlines in the European media that had nothing to do with reality. Not because it didn’t explode, but because those explosions had fine print. Lots of fine print. But above all, Richard Williams has never, by any means, fitted into the list of bad fathers of tennis stars. He does not belong to that group. He has absolutely nothing to do with Jim Pierce, Mary Pierce’s father, and her outbursts during games and continued verbal abuse of her daughter, which led her to request a restraining order against her father. and hire a bodyguard.

He also has nothing to do with Damir Djokic, Jelena Djokic’s father, who told the press on more than one occasion that he would commit suicide if his daughter “were a lesbian” and who was expelled from Wimbledon in 2000 for breaking a journalist’s camera. He doesn’t have anything to do with Stefano Capriati either, about whom there is no need to say much more because everything has already been saying. Stefano, who forced his daughter Jennifer Capriati to enter the professional circuit at the age of 13, is the antithesis of Richard Williams, who did not want his daughters to enter the professional circuit until they finished high school.

The true story of Richard Williams is a story of racism, classism, and fear in the world of tennis. and that he was expelled from Wimbledon in 2000 for breaking a journalist’s camera. He doesn’t have anything to do with Stefano Capriati either, about whom there is no need to say much more because everything has already been saying. Stefano, who forced his daughter Jennifer Capriati to enter the professional circuit at the age of 13, is the antithesis of Richard Williams, who did not want his daughters to enter the professional circuit until they finished high school.

The true story of Richard Williams is a story of racism, classism, and fear in the world of tennis. and that he was expelled from Wimbledon in 2000 for breaking a journalist’s camera. He doesn’t have anything to do with Stefano Capriati either, about whom there is no need to say much more because everything has already been saying. Stefano, who forced his daughter Jennifer Capriati to enter the professional circuit at the age of 13, is the antithesis of Richard Williams, who did not want his daughters to enter the professional circuit until they finished high school.

The true story of Richard Williams is a story of racism, classism, and fear in the world of tennis. that he did not want his daughters to enter said circuit until they finished high school. The true story of Richard Williams is a story of racism, classism, and fear in the world of tennis. that he did not want his daughters to enter said circuit until they finished high school. The true story of Richard Williams is a story of racism, classism, and fear in the world of tennis.

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Is 'The Williams Method' faithful to Richard Williams, the father of Serena and Venus?
JULIAN FINNEY

The view of the Williams family, in general, and of Richard, in particular, as being constantly angry at the world, overconfident, flamboyant, quarrelsome…was the product of predominantly white media covering a predominantly white sport (for Of course, there are exceptions). Tennis has an inherent level of racism and classism that is closely tied to the history of the sport (with consequent barriers to entry for non-native tennis players) that a humble African-American family who ensured their daughters left to become the best tennis players in history. It is not a story of overcoming a humble family. It is more than that. Open reflects it forcefully and we are talking about a man and above all white) and how that environment magnified classist and racist attacks.

Tennis, until the arrival of Serena and Venus Williams, was a sport played by predominantly white, wealthy people: professional lessons are expensive, time on a court isn’t necessarily easy to come by, and you can’t play alone, which means to resort to academies (no need to go to Bottellieri or Rick Macci). The boys and girls who are good enough enter high-profile tournaments that are linked to the United States Tennis Association. And the really good ones quickly make the jump to elite junior international tournaments before turning pro. In between, there is a system of tennis clubs, coaches, sponsors, former players, tennis associations that you have to go through yes or yes… Richard Williams did not come from that world and to enter that world he had to be noticed. A lot.

The Williams family did not fit the classic-tennis-player model at all. Richard didn’t know anything about tennis, but he made sure his daughters played in junior tournaments that he picked sparingly and focused on their studies first. Barring a brief stint with legendary trainer Rick Macci (John Bernthal in the film), Richard took over his coaching and was his primary trainer when they made their pro debut. And, of course, the system did not understand that. What should have been a story of American overcoming collided with a traditional vision, with a kind of sports chauvinism? If only because Richard, father, agent, coach, guerrilla marketing genius,

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The media had a hard time moving away from existing stereotypes. They did not understand that someone, without coming from sports, had a master plan. They did not believe that players who had focused on their studies could be disciplined. Because the stereotypes weighed. All this must be taken into account before evaluating Richard Williams. The media quickly framed tennis players Serena and Venus Williams as threats.

The media used derogatory racist and sexist stereotypes to denigrate his physical power and immeasurable mental strength. And with all this in the backpack is how you have to analyze how Richard Williams moved in that world. March 17, 2001, in the final of the tournament in Indian Wells, California, is the perfect example of the vision that was offered in the media of Richard Williams. It was not the only, nor the first, nor the last time that racism played against him. There are many examples, but I think this is the perfect example.

Is 'The Williams Method' faithful to Richard Williams, the father of Serena and Venus?
LISA BLUMENFELD

A crowd of predominantly white tennis fans who had attended the match angrily booed Richard Williams and his daughters Venus and Serena during the final in Indian Wells. “When Venus and I walked downstairs to our seats, people kept calling me black [niger, a derogatory English word],” Williams told reporters a week later. Serena played Kim Clijsters after Venus, citing tendonitis, withdrew from a semifinal matchup with Serena moments before the match began. “One guy said, ‘I wish it was 1975; we’d skin you alive.’ That’s when I stopped and walked over there. Then I realized that (my) best bet was to handle the situation non-violently. I had trouble containing the tears.

But it’s not just that there were racist comments among the fans on the day of the final. The problems had already started in the semifinals. On March 14, 2001, Venus Williams had beaten tennis player Elena Dementieva in the quarterfinals. The next day the semifinal between the sisters’ Venus and Serena would be played. During the press conference after the match with Venus, Dementieva was asked by journalists if she had any predictions about the match between the sisters. “I don’t know what Richard thinks about it. I think he will decide who is going to win tomorrow,” the tennis player said.

The wide-eyed reporters swooped on her like birds of prey. Do many players in the locker room feel this way? That Richard decides who wins the games? “No, I don’t think so. I haven’t talked about it with other players,” Dementieva replied. But do you have that feeling? The journalists insisted and then Dementieva replied: “Yes.” So, a journalist asked: Is it a family decision? “Yeah, because I remember when they played at Lipton… If you watched this game, it was a lot of fun.” That was the press conference. The WTA did not say this mouth is mine. That same week, a story in the National Enquirer accused the Williams sisters of fixing the outcome of their 2000 Wimbledon semi-final.

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At the press conference he offered a week later, Richard Williams denied that he had forced or conditioned his daughters to lose games against each other and promised never to return to that tournament. Do you know who gave another press conference that same day, after Richard Williams spoke? You guessed it: Elena Dementieva. Basically to back down. An outspoken reporter asked him: “When you made the comment about Richard Williams deciding who was going to win, what did you mean by that?” Dementieva replied: “He was joking.” “Were you kidding me?” the same journalist questioned-opined. Dementieva lowered her head and replied: Yes. “Didn’t you think that joke would become so important?”, continued that journalist. “No, I didn’t think so,” said the tennis player.

And we leave for another day Irina Spirlea and the semifinals of the 1997 US Open.

The family suffered from racist attacks, hostile treatment from other players, unfounded accusations of match-fixing, and biased media coverage. Serena and Venus developed the same trust that their father had instilled in them. People with a high self-concept often do not fit in well in a generally insecure society. Even less among tennis players, players are doomed to insecurity due to the insular nature of the sport. “Right now I’m number 5. Soon I’ll be number 4, and that’s great. One day I’ll win the French Open, and that’ll be great.

Then I’ll have to go ahead and win Wimbledon,” Venus said in a legendary interview at the sports illustrated magazine in 1999. In that same interview, Serena also promised to win a Grand Slam. “I sure can see myself lifting that [Wimbledon] plaque. I just don’t see it not happening,” she said. After all, his father had written a seventy-five-page tennis training plan for himself, his wife, and their future daughters, “detailing every step of the way we would travel, more than two and a half years before they both were born. My plan was simple: take two children out of the ghetto at the forefront of a white-dominated game. Could it be done? I hoped so. In fact, it was beyond hope. I was sure,” Richard Williams wrote in his memoirs, Black and White.

When Venus and Serena started winning, Richard Williams never failed to remind anyone of it. He showed up to many games with signs (in the style of the ones he prepared for his daughters when they trained) with messages like “Welcome to the Williams Show” and “I told you so.” The first time was during the 1999 Lipton Championships, Serena and Venus’s first grand final tournament…the tournament Dementieva had joked about. So yes, Richard Williams is what you see in the movie.

And if you were wondering about the, um, flatulence scene at the tennis club, well, we have an answer too. Did the scene in which Richard Williams (Will Smith) resorts to farting to respond to George MacArthur (Dylan McDermott) and settle the meeting that Paul Cohen (Tony Goldwin) had organized take place in real life? Yes, I mean the Will Smith fart scene at the tennis club. And the answer is that it is real. Richard Williams had (and I understand he still has) a great sense of humor, something that the few profiles that have been written on the father and trainer of Serena and Venus Williams have missed. Indeed, Richard Williams was interviewing a sports agent with whom he did not particularly agree.

Richard did not like where the meeting was leading (basically to capitalize on the African-American origin of Venus and Serena) and, indeed, as Venus Williams has told during the promotion of the film “he farted… quite hard”. “This happened on a regular basis,” added Venus (this in case you had any questions). The subject has also come up in interviews given by Will Smith: “If it hadn’t really happened, you’d think it was fake,” said the actor.

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