Release Date: November 19, 2021
Run Time: 2 hours & 24 minutes
Reviewed By: Edwina
“Armed with a clear vision and a brazen, 78-page plan, Richard Williams (Will Smith) is determined to write his two daughters, Venus (Saniyya Sidney) and Serena (Serena Williams), into history. Training on tennis courts in Compton, California, Richard shapes the girls’ unyielding commitment and keen intuition. Together, the Williams family defies seemingly insurmountable odds and the prevailing expectations laid before them.“
Will Smith is wonderful in this biographical film about Richard Williams, father and coach of Venus and Serena. Richard created a plan for the girls, long before they were born, about how to get to the top of the tennis circuit. He deemed himself in the “champion creating business.” He is a great salesman and motivated to pursue every avenue to find them a wonderful coach. He creates brochures and videos, all by simple means, and pounds the pavement talking up his young daughters. When Richard is not looking for a coach, he is busy training his daughters on the courts of Compton, which is challenging, to say the least. Richard is disrespected, beaten, and neighbors even contact Child Protective Authorities, but he continues to fight for his family.
The girls get their first coaching break with Paul Cohen (Tony Goldwyn). This is after Richard takes the girls directly to him and Cohen agrees to train only one girl, Venus, at no cost. Serena continues to work hard with her mother, who diligently keeps her active and in training. Eventually, Serena signs up for a tournament and begins to make a name for herself, too.
Richard pulls the girls from the Junior Circuit and enlists the help of Rick Macci (Jon Bernthal) who is completely impressed with both Venus and Serena and agrees to take on the training for 15% of future profits. The family heads to Florida, but it’s years before Richard agrees to allow Venus to become “pro” at the age of 14 and take on her first tournament. We see her climb to the top and all that comes with the success. Especially, endorsement deals and trying to do what is right for the family and herself.
I loved this movie! I loved the cast, the soundtrack, and the story. I found myself becoming emotional with several of the scenes, as I could really feel this families’ love for each other and the parental fight for their children. Above all odds, they were going to do what they felt was right for their kids, even when they did not have the means to do it. They were survivors, fighting their way to the top, but never losing sight of humble beginnings. I found myself trying to find the line between “overbearing” and “overprotective.” There were many lines in the movie that made me chuckle and knowing that the young actresses who played Venus and Serena had trained for their roles was inspiring.
Stay for the credits, there is up to date information on everyone and actual family footage of the girls’ early years. It was wonderful to see. This movie gets a 10 rating from me and Will Smith certainly deserves his nomination for Best Actor!