Movies & TV

Will Smith's Upcoming King Richard Brings Venus and Serena's Story to Center Court

The film based on Richard Williams' memoir about raising the Williams sisters is due out on HBO Max in November.
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Will Smith appears to be angling for an Oscar, and if his performance in the upcoming King Richard is half as good as the story of Richard Williams (and as good as it looks in the first trailer), he may just well nab it. On Wednesday, Warner Bros. dropped its first tease of the upcoming tennis biopic, which focuses on Williams (Smith) and the early years he spent coaching his daughters, and eventual tennis legends, Venus and Serena Williams. The film, which has seen a bevy of delays and roadblocks, is slated to premiere on HBO Max and at theaters on November 19.

The biopic, based on Williams' memoir, Black and White: The Way I See It, puts Williams front and center. Venus and Serena's ascents to greatness have been long and hard fought, but before either of them hoisted a slam trophy over their heads, they were two little girls growing up in Compton, California. As mentioned in the trailer, Williams wrote about creating a 78-page business plan for his two daughters. He started taking them to tennis lessons just before age five.

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The two had an incredible rise through the tennis circuit, with Serena winning her first U.S. Open in 1999, followed by Venus' win at Wimbledon one year later. Though he no longer has as active a role as coach, Williams followed his daughters' careers through some of their most dominant eras.

The film itself has seen quite a bit of controversy—initially slated for a 2020 release, the biopic was pushed back due to issues pertaining to Covid-19. On top of that, a legal battle ensued last summer after a production company claimed to have the rights to Williams' life story, despite Warner Bros. purchasing the film in a bidding war. Eventually, the issue was settled out of court.

Now what is left is the powerhouse story of how Williams trained his youngest daughters to become two of the greatest athletes of all time. Aside from the path that Venus has forged in the sport and Serena's designation as GOAT of the Women's Tennis Association, King Richard set the whole narrative into motion.

FromEsquire US

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Justin Kirkland
Justin Kirkland is a writer for Esquire, where he focuses on entertainment, television, and pop culture. Prior to Esquire, his work appeared in Entertainment Weekly, Hollywood Reporter, and USA Today. He is from East Tennessee and currently lives in Brooklyn, New York.
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