Special thanks to Warner Bros. for inviting me to attend a prescreening of King Richard.
As a parent, we always want what’s best for our children. We are attentive to their needs, passions, and desires. Our role is to offer up as much support as needed to help them make their dreams a reality. We’re oftentimes willing to stop at nothing to achieve that goal.
As depicted in the film King Richard, Richard Williams, the father of Serena and Venus Williams, wasn’t any different. He never took “No” for an answer when it came to providing a better life for his children. Williams went as far as developing a nearly 80-page plan of how he’d develop his girls into the best tennis players in the world before they were even born. Spoiler alert: He did.
Once the credits rolled on the screen and as tears rolled down my eyes, I couldn’t help but think just how many lessons this film taught me on how to be the best mom I can be to my two children. Williams’ sacrifice, courage, and determination helped push his daughters to become champions. It showed me that we really can achieve whatever we put our mind to as long as we are committed, confident, and have the courage to do so. This will not only help us become the greatest version of ourselves, but it’ll help us shape our children to unlock their potential as well.
Note: There may be a few spoilers if you haven’t seen the movie just yet.
Teach determination and commitment
Many of us know just how great both Venus and Serena are. I mean they’ve won well over 100 single titles combined, but that didn’t come overnight. They’ve each worked very hard since the age of four years old. Their dad assured them that they would be a force to be reckoned with if they never gave up.
Day after day they showed up to practice even though they didn’t have the best of the best. Starting from the bottom is never glamorous. They may have had raggedy tennis courts and second-rate equipment, but they worked hard towards a vision that others couldn’t see. That right there takes a lot of perseverance. It helps us understand that we aren’t defined by our surroundings.
The way Richard encourage his girls and showed up for them daily, helped me realize just how much we as parents help shape our children into the best version of themselves. He reassured them of their talents and was devoted to protecting them at all costs, pulling them out of junior tournaments to not deprive them of their childhood and to ensure that they weren’t being exploited.
Like I mentioned before Williams knew that his girls would be a star before they were born. He’d studied the sport of tennis and even dabbled in playing the sport himself. His confidence was like no other and he instilled that into his girls as well.
When they were starting out, tennis was predominantly a white person’s sport. Many of the affluent white people he interacted with were taken aback by his confidence and he faced the stigma associated with their race daily. But one thing about Williams, he didn’t let that get to him because he knew the value both Venus and Serena brought to the sport. He didn’t let constant rejection or judgment get in the way of reassuring his girls that they belonged there too.
That moment that left me taking mental notes was during an interview with a reporter, Venus was asked how did she think she’d rank up against a competitor. She responded that she was confident to go up against her component. The reporter followed up, asking how could she be so confident. Venus flat out responded, “Cause I believe it.” I was in the theater like two snaps. This type of confidence is not learned it’s built. Williams did a great job raising his daughters and helping them to understand that even if the entire world doubts you, confidence is something that they can never take away from them.
Protect your children
Despite all microaggressions, Williams had the courage to stand up for his daughters at all costs. He stood up to neighborhood gangsters that disrespected his children. He stood up to the coaches that try to discount his daughters’ talent. He stood up so that his girls would remain children as long as possible and not be taken advantage of and/or exploited by any agent, brand, or media. The odds may have been stacked against them, but Williams did not let fear keep him from helping his kids live out their dreams.
Align with your kids, don’t direct them
The most eye-opening lesson I learned from King Richard is that we should align with the goals that our children set for themselves instead of direct them towards dreams we may have for them. Williams may have developed a plan of becoming a tennis star for them, but ultimately exceeding at the sport was something both girls wanted for themselves. He understood the desire that they had and supported it, stopping at nothing to help them achieve their goal.
Williams never forced them to play tennis. Some may even think he tried to prevent them from becoming the best by removing them from tournaments that could help them get to the top. Ultimately, he knew what was best for them and it paid off in the end.
I can’t lie, going into the movie I had my bias. I wondered why would a movie be made about the father of the best tennis players of all time. But I definitely appreciated this film. I’m going to go out on a limb and say I walked in the theater confused, but I walked out a better parent.