14 Reasons Why King Richard Deserves All The Praise

“Even if you don’t understand tennis, you understand family.”

In case you didn’t know, King Richard is an upcoming biopic about Venus and Serena Williams, their dad Richard Williams, and their family’s journey at the start of the budding tennis stars’ careers. And, you guys, I’m not joking when I say I teared up several times while watching it.

As a kid who grew up playing and watching a lot of tennis in the ’90s, I’m pretty familiar with the legendary rise of the Williams sisters’ professional careers. But what I (and probably most people) didn’t know is how it all started, so I found this film fascinating. King Richard dives into the ~origin story~ of how Richard Williams (and their entire family) struggled and persevered to find success for his talented teenaged daughters Venus and Serena in the highly-competitive, and oftentimes unwelcoming, world of professional tennis.

Chiabella James / Warner Bros. / Courtesy Everett Collection

And, even if you’re not a tennis fan, you’ll still be moved by this story because King Richard is a heartwarming (and heartbreaking) drama about perseverance, dreams, and ultimately, the strength in family.

So, with all that in mind, here are 14 things that make King Richard worth watching:

1.

First of all, you should know Venus and Serena Williams are actually producers on the film, along with their sister Isha Price.

2.

And the reason why Will Smith signed on for the role of Richard Williams will bring a tear to your eye before you even see the film.

Warner Bros. / Courtesy Everett Collection

Speaking at the same press event, Smith explained, “There’s a famous interview [with Venus Williams when she was 14] where Richard Williams snaps on the reporter […] and I saw that in real-time and the look on Venus’s face burned an image in my heart, because that’s how I wanted my daughter to look when I showed up. And that interview really changed my parenting at that time. It was like, the look on Venus’s face, it was like she had a lion. And she was so confident and so comfortable that her lion wasn’t going to let anything happen to her, and I fell in love with Richard Williams then. That was 20 something years ago. So, when the opportunity to be a part of this came up, that was the first thing I remembered. I knew I wanted to show a father protecting a daughter like that to the world.”

Here’s the interview Will Smith was referencing in case you haven’t seen it:

“You’re dealing with a little black kid and her confidence let her be, leave her alone!”

When Richard Williams schooled a journalist on how to interview his daughter Venus 👏

02:07 AM – 03 Jul 2020

Twitter: @ComplexSports

3.

In fact, this moment was so pivotal for both Richard and Venus’s story, that they recreated it in the movie.

Warner Bros. / Courtesy Everett Collection

In the film, the interview happens court-side at coach Rick Macci’s (played by Jon Bernthal) camp in Florida. Now, I’m not sure where the real-life interview took place, but based on the video, it looks like it actually took place in a television studio or office. So, ya know, some slight dramatic liberties were taken there, but it’s all in the name of storytelling!

4.

You don’t actually have to know much (or anything) about tennis to enjoy the movie. Venus said it herself, explaining, “Even if you don’t understand tennis, you understand family.”

Warner Bros. / Courtesy Everett Collection

5.

But, if you ARE someone who’s played tennis (or just a big fan), you’ll appreciate the accuracy of the tennis jargon and visuals in the film…

Chiabella James / Warner Bros. / Courtesy Everett Collection

From references to things like the iconic (and very popular) Wilson Pro Staff tennis rackets of the ’90s to positions like “open stance” (which Venus and Serena helped pioneer into the mainstream), it’s all there.

6.

…as well as the references to famous tennis stars like Steffi Graf, Andre Agassi, and Andy Roddick…

Clive Brunskill / Getty Images

So many iconic Tennis pro names are dropped in the movie, you’ll have a hard time keeping up!

7.

…and even the ~cameos~ (as portrayed by actors) of other famous tennis stars like Arantxa Sánchez Vicario, Jennifer Capriati, John McEnroe, and Pete Sampras.

Warner Bros. / Courtesy Everett Collection

8.

In fact, there’s a pretty great scene with McEnroe and Sampras first meeting Venus and Serena Williams.

Warner Bros. / Courtesy Everett Collection

Without giving away too much, let’s just say the movie REALLY leans into McEnroe’s reputation as a loud-mouthed hot head and Sampras’s as a kinda chill, nice dude. LOL. Sorry McEnroe.

9.

And the young actors who play Venus and Serena — Saniyya Sidney and Demi Singleton, respectively — can really play tennis. Like, they looked LEGIT on the court in the movie.

Warner Bros. / Courtesy Everett Collection

According to Essence, Sidney started taking tennis lessons half a year before she even auditioned for the part of Venus. 

10.

Speaking of the cast, everyone is top-notch and really well cast. (Big shout out to Aunjanue Ellis, who kills it as Venus and Serena’s mom Oracene “Brandy” Price in the film.)

Warner Bros. / Courtesy Everett Collection

Apparently, the cast worked so well together they felt like their own family while filming. “It was amazing to see the family atmosphere on the set,” said Venus.

11.

The script, written by Zach Baylin, is also great. In fact, it was famously on Hollywood’s annual Black List back in 2018.

Warner Bros. / Courtesy Everett Collection

Started in 2005, the Black List is Hollywood’s annual list of the highest-ranked/most-liked, unproduced screenplays that have made the rounds around town, as voted (using a survey system) by hundreds of Hollywood executives. Past Black List scripts include a ton of Oscar winners like Jojo Rabbit, Spotlight, and The King’s Speech just to name a few.

Side note: If you’re wondering why it’s called the “Black List,” Franklin Leonard (who created it), explained, “it’s a reference to both the the Hollywood blacklist of the McCarthy era and the conscious inversion of the notion that ‘black’ somehow needed to signify ‘bad’.”

12.

The soundtrack slaps. The film is a period piece so you’ll hear some classics from the ’80s and ’90s (personally, I was thrilled to hear iconic songs by bands from that era like Journey, Nirvana, Green Day, and more. It took me baaaaack!). There’s even a new track written just for the film by Beyoncé. You can hear it here:

View this video on YouTube

Beyoncé / Parkwood Entertainment / Columbia Records / Via youtube.com

13.

At its core, the film has some really heartfelt and inspirational lessons that literally everyone could learn to live by.

Warner Bros. / Courtesy Everett Collection

There’s a scene where Richard makes his family watch Cinderella and then asks them what they learned from it — when none of them give him the “right answer” he says they have to watch it again (he doesn’t actually force them to, he was just making a point, lol). The “right” answer he was looking for was that, despite all the grand things that happened to Cinderella, in the end, she stayed “pure of heart.”

14.

And finally, and this is not nearly as serious as the other reasons, but it’s still fun, you get to see Will Smith wear “booty shorts” (literally what a neighbor calls them in the movie LOL) for basically the entirety of the film. 🙂

Chiabella James / Warner Bros. / Courtesy Everett Collection

King Richard hits theaters Nov. 19 and will also drop on HBO Max for 31 days following theatrical release. You can watch the latest trailer here:

View this video on YouTube

Warner Bros. Pictures / Via youtube.com

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