“A Lot Like My Father”: Will Smith on Playing Venus and Serena Williams’ Dad in King Richard

Published 09/28/2021, 8:00 AM EDT
CARLSBAD, CA – AUGUST 3: Richard Williams, father of Venus Williams, watches as she competes against Anna Chakvetadze of Russia during the Day 5 match of the Acura Classic at the La Costa Resort and Spa August 3, 2007 in Carlsbad, California. (Photo by Lisa Blumenfeld/Getty Images)


Richard Williams is the father of tennis greats, Venus Williams and Serena Williams, who beat all odds to make his daughters world champions. Interestingly, Warner Bros. decided to bring his inspiring larger-than-life story to the big screens. And that is how Will Smith came into the picture, playing Richard Williams in King Richard. 

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After reading the script, the veteran Hollywood actor saw similarities between his own father and Richard. Moreover, he also understood how a father works tirelessly to shape their children’s future.

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Will Smith on understanding fatherhood from Venus and Serena’s father, Richard Williams

As a father himself, Smith knows the extent that parents go to for their children. However, after learning about Richard Williams, he understood the situation from an entirely different perspective. Also, he also saw a lot of his father in Venus Williams and Serena Williams’ father.

“Richard Williams is a lot like my father,” Smith began. “So when I first read [the script], I understood what it’s like to want your kids to succeed. I had done it a little bit with my kids.”

Serena Williams (R) of the USA celebrates with her father Richard Williams and sister Venus Williams after her Ladies’ Singles final match against Agnieszka Radwanska of Poland on day twelve of the Wimbledon Lawn Tennis Championships at the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club on July 7, 2012 in London, England. (Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images)

Furthermore, the on-screen Mohammed Ali also understood the process of shaping a child to reach their potential. Smith even realized what Richard did with Venus and Serena is not the same as him with his sons. 

“I understood what it was to try to mold a young mind, how it’s different with sons than it is with daughters,” Smith concluded.

The Academy Award-nominated star has already been receiving great reviews for his performance as Richard Williams. However, tennis fans are waiting desperately for the movie to release in the theatres.

In the United States, the original release date is scheduled for 19th November 2021. But the film is already creating buzz to become one of the greatest tennis movies ever made.

Serena Williams and Venus Williams

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At 40 and 41 years of age, Serena and Venus still remain two of the most influential athletes on the WTA Tour, respectively. Moreover, Serena and Venus are a major reason why young players like Naomi Osaka and Coco Gauff started to play tennis.

16 Jan 1998: Teenage tennis sisters from America, Venus (left) and Serena Williams take time off a practise session to pose together during the Adidas International event at White City in Sydney, Australia. Mandatory Credit: Clive Brunskill/Allsport

Despite winning all major tennis accolades, the Williams sisters continue to give their hearts out on tennis courts. Accordingly, fans hope to see them lift a major title before they hang their racquets forever.

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Do you think Serena or Venus will win a Grand Slam in 2022?

Watch this story: Serena Williams and Venus Williams Best Moments at the Wimbledon Championships

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Purav Joshi

1209 articles

Purav Joshi is a Tennis author at EssentiallySports. Having a degree in Films, Television and Media Production, he guided his passion for writing and journalism into the sport of aces and rallies. With over 2 years of experience as a copywriter, Purav has authored over 500 tennis articles.

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