‘She Should Run Track and Not Pursue Tennis’: How Rick Macci Was Blown Away By Venus Williams

Published 12/20/2021, 12:35 AM EST
A young Venus Williams celebrates her victory

Legendary coach Rick Macci was once named the ‘coach of prodigies’. This is because he has helped build stars like Serena and Venus Williams, and Maria Sharapova.


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Moreover, Macci has also coached Andy Roddick and Jennifer Capriati. In fact, all of these names have formerly been World No. 1 in their careers. With the release of ‘King Richard’, the biographical drama about the lives of the Williams family, Macci is once again in the limelight.


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Macci talks about the unreal athleticism of a young Venus Williams

When Venus Williams was ten years old, coach Rick Macci flew down from Florida to Compton to assess her skills. He describes their first interaction in detail in his book, Macci Madness: Extracting Greatness From Yourself And Others.

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

Initially, Macci was underwhelmed when he saw the girls practice and play around on the broken tennis courts in Compton. However, he did notice something different about 10-year-old Venus Williams. “After we got organized and had all the balls in there, Venus and Serena kind of jogged around the court. One thing I noticed right off the bat: Venus ran kind of different,” Macci writes.

In fact, Macci even thought that Venus Williams was in the wrong sport! “She was very long, very tall, and had strides like a gazelle. I said, ‘Ah, that’s interesting.’ I was thinking she should run track and not pursue tennis.'”

Macci then points out how it isn’t uncommon for tennis athletes to be tall and thin. Moreover, he compares a young Venus’s physique to that of a praying mantis! Macci was definitely impressed with the way Venus carried herself while running and jogging. “There was a lot of length there in her stride.”


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He even compares her to her younger sister Serena at the time, “Serena was very stocky and compact as a 9-year-old.”

Macci believes Venus could have used her athleticism to be the GOAT

Tennis – Wimbledon – All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club, London, Britain – June 29, 2021 Venus Williams of the U.S. in action during her first round match against Romania’s Mihaela Buzarnescu REUTERS/Toby Melville

Even though Rick Macci and the Williams family parted ways professionally when Venus was 15, they remain friends to this day. In an interview with Eric Han, however, Macci expresses his opinion on Venus’ game.

He expresses how Venus could have had more success if she used her physicality in the sport. “Venus was much much better at (age) 11, 12, 13,” he said. “Her vertical jump- you cannot lob this girl, and she has a great wingspan!” Macci describes.



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“I really believe that Venus could’ve won more Grand Slams than anybody.” Macci, to this day, is convinced that Venus could have been unsurpassable had her talents been utilized better.


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What do you make of Macci’s comments?

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Samarveer Singh

238 articles

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. A collegiate athlete himself, he admires all sportspersons who put in the work in order to achieve excellence.