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Will Smith to Play Serena & Venus Williams' Dad in King Richard

Will Smith Men in Black with Neuralyzer

Will Smith is set to star in the biopic King Richard. The Aladdin actor will portray Richard Williams, the California man who raised pro athletes Venus and Serena Williams, both of whom reached the highest levels of professional tennis. Born and raised in Louisiana, Richard Williams moved to Chicago after high school and ultimately settled in California. By 1979, he had five children and then met Oracene Price. Together, they had three children, including Venus (born in 1980) and Serena (born in 1981). The eldest Williams famously wrote a 78-page sports plan, the framework for the athletic education of his two youngest daughters.

By 2000, both Venus and Serena had won Grand Slam titles, thus announcing a new era in professional tennis. While Venus is highly regarded as one of the sport’s most accomplished players, Serena is considered by many to be not only the best female tennis player of her generation, but perhaps the best of all-time. To date, Serena Williams holds the record for the most Grand Slam titles for active players with 39, and she’s currently a Top 10-ranked player at age 37. Unsurprisingly, Richard Williams has received an extensive amount of media coverage over the years given his daughters’ towering legacy in American sports.  

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Per Deadline, Will Smith will star as Richard Williams in the biopic King Richard. While the full narrative details haven’t been revealed, it’s likely that the film will highlight the ascent of both Serena And Venus, along with their father’s exclamatory line of “Straight outta Compton” after the latter won the Wimbledon championship in 2001. For the entirety of the 21st century, both Serena and Venus have been in the media spotlight, this coming after their fellow Compton natives N.W.A. disbanded and influenced pop culture during the late '80s and early '90s. The 2015 film Straight Outta Compton chronicles the rise and fall of N.W.A., and King Richard will apparently tell a new Compton-themed story, and with a Hollywood mogul in the lead role. 

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While N.W.A was putting West Coast rap on the map and Richard Williams was raising his two youngest daughters in Compton, the Philadelphia native Smith was establishing himself in both music and television. As one part of the duo known as DJ Jazzy Jeff & The Fresh Prince, Smith helped introduce hip-hop to mainstream America, before landing a starring role in the now-iconic NBC series The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air. During the ‘90s, Smith starred in game-changing Hollywood blockbusters like Independence Day and Men in Black, before taking on more challenging roles during the 2000s and 2010s. In 2019, Smith will appear in 20th Century Fox’s Spies in Disguise and Ang Lee’s Gemini Man. 

Tennis fans may be yearning for a biopic that documents the trials and tribulations of both Serena and Venus Williams, but perhaps King Richard will set the groundwork for a later film. If anything, the tennis drama may shine a spotlight on two up-and-coming female actresses playing the Williams sisters, all the while giving Smith a platform to prove that he’s still a bankable star.

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Source: Deadline

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