The fact that Serena and Venus’ father Richard was the greatest influence on them has never been a secret. Especially after the hit 2021 film, ‘King Richard’ came out portraying the Williams sisters’ childhood and how their father went above and beyond to pave their way for greatness.
Born in Louisiana, Richard moved to Michigan after finishing high school and met Oracene there. The couple moved to California and Richard started taking tennis lessons from a former coach named Oliver, better known as “Old Whiskey.” Oliver had once been a coach to tennis greats Arthur Ashe and Jimmy Connors, but his problem with alcohol ended his career short.
They Were Raised as Jehovah’s Witnesses
The sisters’ mother, Oracene Price, had become a Jehovah’s Witness back in 1980, and so she raised her daughters in the same faith. While Venus and Serena have always kept their religion private, they have said that it is still important to them to honor the basic tenets of the faith they grew up with.
This includes not celebrating birthdays or most holidays, keeping up with services, and putting in their hours doing door-to-door ministry.
The Williams Sisters Have Many Siblings
Serena and Venus are the only two daughters of Oracene Price and Richard Williams. However, they have three half-sisters from Oracene’s previous marriage - Lyndrea, Isha, and Yetunde, and another five half-brothers and sisters from Richard’s side - Richard III, Ronner, Sabrina, Chavoita, and Dylan Starr.
Out of their other 8 siblings, Venus and Serena are the only ones that play competitive sports. Their sisters Lyndrea and Isha are fashion merchandisers and attorneys, and little is known about Richard’s other children.
The Journey to Greatness Begins
Richard’s obsession with his daughters becoming tennis prodigies began after watching a tournament in 1978. Famous tennis player Virginia Ruzici had won the match and, with it, a check for $20,000.
Richard decided he wanted this for his daughters, and so he decided from that moment on that they would become the best professional tennis players the world had ever seen. He started coaching Venus and Serena when they were four and a half years old.
The Williams Move to Florida
By the time the girls were 11 and 10 years old, it became clear to Richard that Serena and Venus showed great talent on the tennis court. Richard managed to get the attention of world-renowned tennis coach Rick Macci and convinced him to go see his daughters play.
Macci was so impressed that he offered to train the girls for free in his academy in West Palm Beach, Florida. And so, in 1991, the Williams family relocated to the Sunshine State.