the father of Venus and Serena from Oscar-

Of Gaia Piccardi

American from Louisiana, inspired by the victory of Virginia Ruzici in Paris in ’78, even before the birth of his daughters he had decided that they would become champions. And on the actor’s fist he says: I condemn violence, except self-defense

If he had more genius ideas or wives (three, for the record: Betty Johnsonwith whom he had five children, Oracene Pricewith whom he generated Venus and Serena, and Lakeisha Grahama son with her) a widely debated issue in the reckless life of Richard Dove Williams Junior, 80 years oldan American from Louisiana, the self-made man tennis coach who inspired the character of King Richard thanks to which Will Smith won the most coveted award in Hollywood on the most controversial Oscar night in recent history.

Smith’s punch to presenter Chris Rock for an unwelcome comment about his wife Jada was censored by Richard Williams on NBC from one of his daughters, Chavoita LeSane: Pap says that, while not aware of the details of what happened, he condemns every form of violence unless it is personal self-defense. Comment perfectly in line with the personality of a bulky and noisy man (at tournaments he was announced by a baritone voice that preceded him in the paths of the club), never gone unnoticed (remember the welcome sign to Williams Party even if no one invited you! which he brought to the Royal Box on the occasion of Venus’ victory at Wimbledon over reigning champion Lindsey Davenport, in 2000, was the first of the seven Slam titles of his eldest daughter had by Oracene), but certainly endowed with a vision: even before they were born, he had decided that Venus and Serena would play tennis and possibly become two of the greatest champions in the history of sport. No sooner said than done.

In turn, the first of five children, a restless temperament, Richard moved to Michigan and then to California after high school. In the Sunshine State, specifically in Compton, a Los Angeles ghetto, Venus (born in 1980) and Serena (fifteen months younger) were born, they grew up dodging the bullets of the Crips and Bloods, the local gangs, the favorite daughters whom he himself had decided to teach to play tennis (Richard had taken a few lessons in his youth from a man known as Old Whiskey …), there being no coach in the world to match his talented girls. After seeing Virginia Ruzici win Roland Garros in 1978, Williams Senior had written an 85-page work plan: so I will turn my little girls into champions. The dedication to her father, the work ethic, the athletic and technical skills of the Williams Sisters have worked the miracle: seven career Slams Venus, even 23 Serena, one step away from the absolute record of Margaret Court, plus everything else.

At four, Richard’s heirs are already on the tennis court, made their debut in the professional circuit very young, without any apprenticeship in category tournaments: this is the path traced by Richard and Venus and Serena carry out the battle plan without batting an eye. Serena breaks the ice with the Grand Slam before Venus: in 1999, even before reaching the age of majority, he tears up Martina Hingis in the final of the US Open, first of 23 Majors. The rest story.

Although Richard Williams has not only made friends in the tennis world, although he remembers in court more than one case for breach of contracts in which the sisters had to appear as witnesses, never a word of criticism of the brusque and authoritarian ways of the father who came out of the mouth of the Williams, perennially grateful, respectful, almost devoted. We owe everything we have to him they say, including billionaire bank accounts
. There was a great deal of concern that the film would not return the right image of their father: Venus and Serena did not approve the film until they saw it finished and edited. There was a risk that the work would end up in the pulp. Instead, the interpretation of Will Smith liked, including Oscar.

Richard Williams today is a man in his eighties who has suffered several strokes over the years. He no longer shows up around the tournaments, he speaks very little but every day he answers the phone calls from Venus and Serena, his beloved instruments of social redemption, the flags that he placed on the globe of world sport. And that no one, ever, will be able to move from there.

March 29, 2022 (change March 29, 2022 | 19:32)

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