Raising Tennis Aces: the Williams' Story is a Sport programme.



Raising Tennis Aces: the Williams' Story

Venus and Serena Williams took Wimbledon by storm last year with emotional wins in the Women's singles and doubles. Equally striking was the figure of their father, Richard, whose frequent outbursts saw him labelled as eccentric or manipulative.

For the media it began as a fairytale story of two powerful and graceful sisters from a rough neighbourhood who excelled at sport and took on the world under the guidance of their disciplinarian father. But the backlash was quick to follow with accusations of greed, ambition, thrown matches and arrogance.

After last year's racist barracking of Serena by spectators at Indian Wells, there have been claims and counter claims of racism within the tennis establishment and from the family. Others accused Richard of squandering the girls' natural ability with his unconventional training routine. And the family's millions from tournament wins and sponsorship deals have provoked bitterness and jealousy.

Respected film-maker Terry Jervis set out to check the story against the reality, following Venus, Serena and Richard during the build up to this year's Wimbledon tournament and spending two months at the family's Florida home. The result is a revealing portrait totally removed from the media representation of a family driven by ambition and greed.

For the first time, Richard Williams has allowed exclusive interviews and use of the family's home movie archive, and the film follows the sisters' rise to fame - from practising their serves amidst drive-by shootings in LA's roughest neighbourhood to grand slam wins across the globe.

Richard discusses his incredible plan to train his daughters to be world champions, a decision he reached after seeing other young stars earning fortunes: "I went to my wife the next day and said 'We need to make two more kids'," says Williams with typical humour.

"There was a plan from two years before Venus was actually born as to how I would raise my kids with the help of my wife - their education, their food and most of all their tennis. I'm the master planner, no-one is going to outplan me."

Meanwhile, Venus and Serena talk about their own plans for life beyond tennis - while Venus sees her future working as an archaeologist or palaeontologist, Serena is more set on a shift to Hollywood.

Produced &

Genre: Sport

Running Time: 60 minutes (approx)