‘Didn’t Know Much:’ King Richard Actor Reveals How Much He Knew About Venus and Serena Williams Before The Movie

Published 01/05/2022, 10:30 AM EST
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

Venus Williams and Serena Williams are two of the greatest athletes of all time. In fact, their names are synonymous with the sport of tennis itself.

Their latest movie, which the sisters have co-produced, shows the youth of the Williams sisters. ‘King Richard’, a biographical drama, depicts the struggles they faced on their path to greatness.

Actor Jon Bernthal, who plays legendary coach Rick Macci, shares his views on the megastars. Moreover, he also reveals just how much he knew about the Williams sisters before the movie.


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Jon Bernthal calls Venus and Serena Williams cultural icons

In an interview with Desert Sun, actor Jon Bernthal talks about his role as the loving, caring coach figure of Rick Macci. He describes how the role was a breath of fresh air for him. Moreover, it was also a departure from the usual coach characters in Hollywood, who are usually depicted as ‘harda**es’.

22 Jul 1992. Venus Williams receives instructions from her father Richard and coach Rick Macci in Florida. Mandatory Credit: Ken Levine /Allsport

When asked about how much he knew about Venus and Serena Williams prior to the movie, Jon Bernthal shared what he knew about their story.

“I didn’t know much about tennis,” the Rick Macci actor replied. “Obviously, they (Venus and Serena) are icons and two of the most important figures in cultural history,” Bernthal shared.

Then, he talked about how it was a great decision to base the movie on their struggle, and not their success. “This is not a greatest hits of their huge athletic achievements,” Bernthal describes. “We all know how this story ends,” he says. “I thought that was so cool and interesting.”


In fact, Bernthal admitted to having his own misconceptions about Richard Williams, the girls’ father, before reading the script. He addressed how Richard has been quite misunderstood by the press.


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Then, he shared how he himself perceived him before the movie. “If I’m being completely honest, I went into reading the script for the first time with a ton of misconceptions and preconceptions,” Bernthal admits.

Serena remembers time with Macci endearingly

PARIS, FRANCE May 29. Serena Williams of the United States shares a joke with coach Patrick Mouratoglou while training on Court Philippe-Chatrier in preparation for the 2021 French Open Tennis Tournament at Roland Garros on May 29th 2021 in Paris, France. (Photo by Tim Clayton/Corbis via Getty Images)

In another interview about King Richard, Bernthal shares how everyone looks back at their time with coach Rick Macci as ‘the funnest times in their life.”

Thus, it was that love that everybody had for Macci, which Bernthal tried to mimic in his performance. “It was fun to keep it fun!” he describes.


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One thing remains obvious- regardless of whether one has watched the movie, or even follows tennis in general, Venus and Serena Williams remain household names across the world.

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Samarveer Singh

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Samarveer Singh is a tennis writer at EssentiallySports. Holding a degree in English Literature and a diploma in Fitness Sciences and Training, Samarveer is obsessed with tennis and basketball. He is also an automotive writer at HotCars.