Few biopic subjects are as divisive as Richard Williams. The father of star tennis sisters Venus and Serena Williams wrote a 78-page plan or manifesto on how he would groom his yet-unborn daughters into tennis greatness. Williams practically willed his bold and uncompromising plan into fruition with tough love and discipline that seemingly didn’t always come in equal parts. King Richard takes an up-close and personal look at the indomitable father of two of the greatest tennis players to ever pick up a racket and surreptitiously broaches that age-old paradox of whether or not parents are pushing their kids too hard to succeed.

There is perhaps no bigger movie star on the planet with the talent and the cache to play the mercurial Richard Williams than Will Smith. Smith is absolutely phenomenal here, and he disappears in a role that will have audiences feeling overly compassionate towards a deeply flawed man.


From a film standpoint, King Richard is a pretty conventional sports movie. It’s got your familiar formulaic paint by numbers approach that consists of an underdog (or two) and the hardship they encounter, the : THE REEL By SCOTT PETERSON @CineSportsTalk inevitable rise to overcome said hardship, and the goosebump inducing ending that sends moviegoers to the exits with a designed ear–to-ear grin on their faces. What makes King Richard feel different and fresh is that the director, Reinaldo Marcus Green, chooses not to focus on two of the greatest stars in sports history, but rather the father that got them there.

Whether it was Richard pushing Venus (Saniyya Sidney) and Serena (Demi Singleton) during late-night sessions at Compton’s gang-riddled public tennis courts, or convincing popular tennis coach Rick Macci (Jon Bernthal) to finance and relocate the entire family to Florida so Venus could train, no obstacle was too great. Williams was always three steps ahead. Now the only question that remains is, “Did it all come at a cost?” What King Richard understandably doesn’t depict is any semblance of a childhood for Venus and Serena. They weren’t allowed to play tennis unless they thrived in the classroom, so if their feet weren’t on a tennis court, their nose was in a book. With greatness comes sacrifice. Was the juice worth the squeeze? King Richard is one of the best films of the year.