Venus And Serena: Doc On Williams Sisters Rise To Superstardom TIFF 2012
The World Premiere Venus and Serena the Documentary on the World Tennis Superstar Williams sisters came just 2 days after Serena Williams won her 4th US Open Women’s Singles Title. Serena started playing tennis at the age of 5 and Venus started playing at the age of 4. It is highly unlikely that the world will see another sister team with a tennis story or sisterhood story like this one for a very, very long time (if ever). This is the stuff that dreams are made of and one of the most awe inspiring, compelling stories of this century. This is a story about fighting all the odds and having the perseverance and ability to win. And then to have to keep doing it! The documentary’s theme song, “Heart of a Warrior” is by Venus’s great friend and Golden-Globe nominee Wyclef Jean (The Manchurian Candidate, Hotel Rawanda) who attended the premiere.
It was a shame that Venus and Serena Williams could not have been at the TIFF 2012 World Premiere of the Documentary by Maiken Baird and Michelle Major that told the remarkable, epic story of their lives so far. They would certainly have felt the love, admiration and respect of the audience. It is their story, they have lived it, sacrificed for it and deserve to have it told the way they would like it to be told. However, I think that having seen the documentary everyone will have an even greater respect, admiration and understanding for the Williams family and their parents Richard Williams and Oracene Price. It is the actual footage of the family, Venus and Serena on court and growing up, their anecdotes and those from the people who know them that strike the heartstrings.
The documentary uses archival footage to reconstruct the early years of the Williams Sisters training and rise to tennis superstardom. We meet these two little African American girls from a disadvantaged neighborhood in Compton, California and we meet their father Richard Williams. Compton, California was notorious for gang violence in the 1980’s followed by high crime rates due to a crack epidemic in the 80’s and 90’s. Richard Williams’s story is probably an epic on its own but immediately we see a man with the ferocity of a lion when it comes to his daughters and the determination to realize a dream for them that he conceived before they were born and committed to a 78 page manifesto. Richard and his wife Oracene Price then sacrificed everything they could to make the dream come true. But these little girls never gave up, joined like Siamese twins they face the world and all its obstacles with a grace and determination that is of mythic proportions.