Richard Williams (tennis coach)

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Richard Williams
Williams at the 2007 Acura Classic
Full nameRichard Dove Williams Jr.
Born (1942-02-14) February 14, 1942 (age 82)
Shreveport, Louisiana, U.S.
Coaching career (1994–present)
Coaching achievements
Coachee singles titles total49(V)-73(S) (122 titles)
Coachee(s) doubles titles total21(S-V)-2(V)-5(S) (28 titles)
List of notable tournaments
(with champion)
Coaching awards and records

Richard Dove Williams Jr.[1] (born February 14, 1942)[2] is a former American tennis coach and the father of tennis players Venus and Serena Williams.

Early life[edit]

Williams is the eldest of five children[3] and the only son of Julia Mae (née Metcalf) and Richard Dove Williams of Shreveport, Louisiana. His younger sisters are Pat, Barbara, Penny, and Faye.[1] After graduating from high school he moved to Saginaw, Michigan[3] and then to California.[4]

Tennis coaching[edit]

Williams with his daughters shortly after Serena Williams' victory in the 2012 Wimbledon Championships

Williams took tennis lessons from a man known as "Old Whiskey" and decided his future daughters would be tennis professionals after seeing Virginia Ruzici playing on television.[2][5] Williams said that he wrote up an 85-page plan and started giving lessons to Venus and Serena when they were four and a half, taking them to practice on public tennis courts.[6] Williams later added that he felt he took them too early and age six would have been more suitable.[4] In 1995, Williams withdrew his daughters from a tennis academy and coached them himself.[7] Within a few years, they were winning grand slam tournaments.

Serena won the US Open in 1999 and Venus beat Lindsay Davenport to win the 2000 Wimbledon title. After that victory, Richard shouted "Straight Outta Compton!", in reference to a song by N.W.A based in Compton, California, the same area in Los Angeles where the family once resided.[8] He jumped over the NBC broadcasting booth, catching Chris Evert by surprise and performing a triumphant dance. Evert said that the broadcasters "thought the roof was coming down".[8]

Personal life[edit]

Born in Shreveport, Louisiana, to a family of sharecroppers, Richard Williams had childhood experiences with racism.[9] He has been open about his difficult childhood and experiences with racism and has credited his faith as a source of strength throughout each season of his life. Williams has been married three times and has nine children.[citation needed]

Prior to meeting his future wife Oracene Price in the 1970s, Williams moved to Saginaw, Michigan, then California, and met his first wife Betty Johnson. Johnson and Williams married in 1965 and had five children, three sons and two daughters: Sabrina, Richard III, Ronner, Reluss, and Reneeka, who were raised alongside Betty's other daughter, Katrina.[2] Williams and Johnson divorced in 1973 after Williams walked out on the family never to return under the lie that he was going to get Sabrina a bike.[citation needed]

In 1979, he met Oracene "Brandy" Price, who had three daughters from a previous relationship in California, and they married in 1980. They had two daughters, Venus (born June 17, 1980) and Serena (born September 26, 1981), both of whom would become tennis champions. The family resided in Compton, California. Williams and Oracene divorced in 2002.

Williams then met grocery store owner Lakeisha Juanita Graham, and they married in 2010.[10][4] They have a son.[11] They divorced in 2017.[12][10]

Williams has a son, Chavoita, from a relationship outside his marriages.[12]

In his most recent years, Williams has accomplished much and overcome health struggles. He authored two books: "Black and White: The Way I See It", a memoir published in 2014, and "Richard Williams: Tennis and Race in the United States", a study of race and tennis that was published in 2020. He has also been the subject of several documentaries and has been featured in various media outlets. However, in July 2016, Williams suffered a stroke. At the time his then-wife, Lakeisha Williams, stated that his condition was stable.[13] In 2022, Williams was reported to have had two strokes.[12][14]

In popular culture[edit]

A biographical film, King Richard, starring Will Smith as Richard Williams, was released on November 19, 2021, in theaters by Warner Bros. Pictures and streaming on HBO Max.[15] The film was directed by Reinaldo Marcus Green and written by Zach Baylin. Venus and Serena served as executive producers.

Smith received critical acclaim for his performance and won numerous awards, including the 2022 Academy Award for Best Actor in a Leading Role,[16] Golden Globe Award for Best Actor in a Motion Picture Drama[17] and the Screen Actor's Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Leading Role in a Motion Picture.[18]

A documentary film, On The Line: The Richard Williams Story, premiered at the 2022 Tribeca Film Festival and the 2023 Sheffield DocFest. [19] Fremantle (company) acquired the rights to the film, which will be released by Sky UK in the U.K. and Italy, Canal+ in France, M-Net in South Africa, and Network 10 in Australia.[20] The film was directed and produced by Stuart McClave.[21]


  • With Bart Davis (2014). Black and White: The Way I See It. New York: Atria Books. ISBN 978-1476704203.[22]


  1. ^ a b Williams, Richard; Davis, Bart (2017). Black and White: The Way I See It. Simon and Schuster. ISBN 9781476704210 – via Google Books.
  2. ^ a b c Edmondson, Jacqueline (2005). Venus and Serena Williams: A Biography. Greenwood Publishing Group. p. 14. ISBN 0-313-33165-0.
  3. ^ a b Williams, Richard (April 20, 2014). "Richard Williams, father of Venus and Serena, reveals tough childhood that included disguising as a Klansman in 'Black and White: The Way I See It'". New York Daily News. Retrieved September 6, 2019.
  4. ^ a b c Wiedeman, Reeves (June 2, 2014). "Tiger Dad: Child's Play". The New Yorker. pp. 24–25.
  5. ^ Gregory, Sean (November 17, 2021). "What King Richard's Story of an Uncommon Dad Means for the Rest of Us". Time. Retrieved January 25, 2022.
  6. ^ Lewis, Gabrielle (July 6, 2000). "Paternal instinct". BBC Sport. Retrieved September 7, 2016.
  7. ^ Edmondson, 2005, p. p. 47
  8. ^ a b Jago, Richard (July 4, 2009). "Richard Williams leaves Venus and Serena to take centre stage". The Guardian. Retrieved September 6, 2019.
  9. ^ name="reveals tough">Williams, Richard (April 20, 2014). "Richard Williams, father of Venus and Serena, reveals tough childhood that included disguising as a Klansman in 'Black and White: The Way I See It'". New York Daily News. Retrieved September 6, 2019.
  10. ^ a b Kleinberg, Eliot (June 15, 2017). "NEW: Father of Venus, Serena Williams seeks divorce from second wife". The Palm Beach Post. Retrieved September 6, 2019.
  11. ^ Cronin, Matt (October 24, 2012). "Williams Sisters Have New Little Brother". Retrieved September 6, 2019.
  12. ^ a b c Magee, NY (December 19, 2018). "Serena And Venus Williams' Disabled Father Reportedly Needs Son To Interpret As He Battles Ex Wife". Retrieved September 6, 2019.
  13. ^ "Wife: Richard Williams had stroke, needs therapy". July 16, 2016. Retrieved September 7, 2016.
  14. ^ Clarey, Christopher (March 28, 2022). "Will Smith Owned the Williams Sisters' Story Onscreen. Then He Stole Their Moment". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved April 4, 2022.
  15. ^ "Before Richard Was King…". WLM Tennis. November 20, 2021. Retrieved December 10, 2021.
  16. ^ "Will Smith Wins 2022 Oscar for Actor in a Leading Role in KING RICHARD - Oscars 2022 News". Retrieved March 28, 2022.
  17. ^ "Winners & Nominees Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture - Drama". Retrieved March 27, 2022.
  18. ^ Lewis, Hilary (February 28, 2022). "SAG Awards: Will Smith Pays Tribute to Venus and Serena Williams' Father in Best Actor Win". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved March 27, 2022.
  19. ^ [1] Naman Ramachandran, Variety, 14 June 2023.
  20. ^ [2] Manori Ravindran, Variety, 17 July 2023.
  21. ^ [3] Brent Simon, Golden Globe Awards, 9 July 2022.
  22. ^ "Richard Williams, father of Venus and Serena, reveals tough childhood that included disguising as Klansman in 'Black and White: The Way I See It". Daily News. April 20, 2014.

External links[edit]