King Richard (AU - M/UK - 12A/US - PG-13)

In a Word: Unconventional 

King Richard

Demi Singleton stars as Serena Williams, Will Smith as Richard Williams and Saniyya Sidney as Venus Williams in King Richard. PICTURE: Courtesy of Warner Bros Pictures

Serena and Venus Williams have dominated the tennis world for decades and have since become household names. Their unlikely journey to success owes much to their eccentric father who earned the title King Richard.

"Will Smith delivers one of the best performances of his career with the 'Fresh Prince' transforming his voice and mannerisms to recreate this fascinating character. But there is no escaping that the main protagonist is deeply flawed and the films shows how his uncompromising focus to propel Venus and Serena to superstardom created many casualties along the way."

Richard Williams (Will Smith) is raising a family with five young girls in 1980’s Compton, LA, where the ever-present threat of gang violence and widespread poverty defines the neighbourhood. It was also a time when only the privileged - those who could afford the time and training, could become professional tennis players. Richard, however, is determined to make his daughters champions, a task which involves rigorous daily training on the local courts, facing the violence of local gangs, the derision of neighbours and the ridicule of the tennis elite. All these obstacles are overcome with dogged persistence, unconventional boldness and a stubborn pride.



Will Smith delivers one of the best performances of his career with the “Fresh Prince” transforming his voice and mannerisms to recreate this fascinating character. But there is no escaping that the main protagonist is deeply flawed and the films shows how his uncompromising focus to propel Venus (Saniyya Sidney) and Serena (Demi Singleton) to superstardom created many casualties along the way. We see depicted not only the often uncomfortable dealings he had with business partners but also the sometimes strained relationship he had with his wife. 

Despite all these faults, Williams remains a compelling figure because of his deep commitment to the welfare of his daughters. He instills in them a powerful lesson of humility in preparation for the lasting success that is to come. Time has certainly proven that these unorthodox methods worked well to create two champions that have excelled in both sport and business.

The Reinaldo Marcus Green-directed King Richard tells a small slice of the Williams family story. By deliberately focusing on the tweenage years of the sisters, the focus is squarely on Richard Williams and his momentous influence on their lives. It is a portrait of what it takes to be exceptional in extremely difficult circumstances. We are given an immersive look into the rarely explored world of competitive tennis and shown the stark contrast of race, wealth and privilege that divides the US.

King Richard the movie is much like Richard Williams the man. It is sometimes confronting and uncomfortable but ultimately inspirational and triumphant.