Richard Williams, tennis superstars Serena and Venus’ father, will be inducted into the American Tennis Association’s Tennis Hall of Fame for his contribution to coaching his famous daughters.
Male or female, Serena Williams is the greatest athlete of all time and has to be included on any short list of the greatest athletes ever, right up there with Babe Ruth and Jesse Owens, Sandy Koufax and Jim Brown, Muhammad Ali and Michael Jordan, Jackie Stewart and Pele.
And Richard Williams’s coaching of his daughters is pretty epic too.
The Williams sisters have 30 grand slam singles titles each. They played each other in the finals nine times. They also have 17 doubles titles playing together in only 33 major appearances along with three gold medals in Olympic doubles.
Now, even for the most competitive players in sports today, those results are still remarkable. Especially considering their backstory: As a former sharecropper, Richard Williams saw a tennis match on TV and was shocked at the size of the check being handed to the winner. So, as a middle aged black man, he decided to teach himself this remarkably complex game. He then wrote a 78-page plan, scrounged a shopping cart full of balls and taught his youngest daughters the game a whole two years before they were even born.
That is nothing short of a miracle.
Williams was a controversial figure in the tennis world, where his unorthodox teaching methods, tough love discipline and unapologetic blackness often rubbed the world of tennis the wrong way. But you can’t argue with his results. His methods worked, and his daughters still impacted the tennis game despite being some of the oldest players on the women’s circuit. Not to mention, it was also found that Serena won her last match while she was pregnant.
How’s that for Black girl magic?
Williams, now 75, had a stroke in summer 2016, shortly before Williams’s sister Serena won Wimbledon. He had not seen either of them play in person for about a year, since he accompanied
Venus to the Volvo Open in Charleston, S.C., in early April 2016. That is until he showed up cheering his eldest daughter on in March of 2017.
According to Williams’ third wife, Lakeisha Williams, the patriarch of the Williams family has and still is recovering.
“His condition is fair” Lakeisha Williams said.
“He needs speech therapy, psychological therapy and physical therapy, but for now, he refused,” she said. “I’m trying to get him under control and relaxed so that when we come back from out of town we could try to get that going. But he doesn’t wish to be bothered with anybody,” Lakeisha went on to say in her 2016 interview.
“His mind is thinking that they’re going to put him back in ‘prison’—which is what he calls the hospital,” she said. “He thinks we are just going to take him back to the hospital, but that is not correct.”
She added: “His mind is telling him that since he was once in charge of his life, after what’s happened he’s not accepting it.”
Williams will be recognized during the ATA’s Centennial Celebration Gala on August 2nd, 2017.