Warning! The following discusses the ending of the new movie “King Richard,” so beware if you haven’t seen it yet.

The biopic “King Richard” casts Will Smith as the father of tennis greats Venus and Serena Williams – and finds Venus revisiting the first defeat of her pro career. 

The film (in theaters and streaming on HBO Max now) offers up “a version of ourselves, not our complete selves or who we are at the moment,” Venus Williams tells USA TODAY. “So in that sense, it’s interesting to watch a past you.” Her sibling adds: “Those memories aren’t too much of a distant past for us.”

“I had the heart to him,”Will Smith, Williams sister break down truths in King Richard

“King Richard” follows the young career of Venus Williams (played by Saniyya Sidney) from around ages 10 to 14, when she made her pro debut at Oakland’s Bank of the West Classic tournament, as well as the trajectory of sister Serena (Demi Singleton), a year younger. The movie’s finale depicts Williams’ early success at the tournament, dominating Shaun Stafford in the first round, but also her defeat as she’s ousted in the second by No. 2-ranked Arantxa Sanchez Vicario.

“I’m pleased with her performance, but I’m also happy that she lost,” the real Richard Williams said after the match. “It gives us a chance to go home and let her be a 14-year-old for the rest of the year.”

In the film, Venus is consoled by Richard and her mom Oracene (Aunjanue Ellis) but as the dejected teen leaves the building, she’s met by a crowd of cheering fans who stuck around to show their love.

‘King Richard’ review:Oscar-ready is Will Smith’s imperfect, inspirational tennis dad.

Venus Williams (Saniyya Sidney, right) prepares to take on No. 2-ranked tennis star Arantxa Sanchez Vicario (Marcela Zacarias) in "King Richard."

Asked about that match, Venus Williams remembers “not knowing what I was doing. It was a big lead. She took a bathroom break and I fell apart.” She won the first set 6-2 and was up 3-1 in the second when Sanchez Vicario called for a break. Sanchez Vicario won 11 more games when she returned, first winning the second set, then defeating Williams 6-0.

“I just remember distinctly thinking, ‘Gosh, I should have won that match. I shouldn’t be going home.’ And I knew I had to improve myself,” Williams says now. “I think that’s what I took out of it. Although it wasn’t something I said, inside I knew I had to win. So I guess I was hard on myself at the time.”

Venus Williams gets a hug from her father, Richard Williams, at the start of her news conference after winning the first match of her pro tennis career during the 1994 Bank of the West Classic.

Did the veteran betray the newcomer? In the film, Sanchez Vicario (Marcela Zacarias) leaves for so long that everybody starts getting antsy, including Venus, and Richard eyes the bathroom suspiciously.

Serena Williams admits that “she did take a long break.” And Venus Williams doesn’t remember how long “but it was definitely a thing. I don’t hate her for it at all.”

“I was young. You can take a breather on me, because it’s great! You can keep going.’ However, I was unable to win that match without the break. You can’t ever say. But probably.”

Oscar Dixon Contributing

Source: USAToday.com


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