ENTERTAINMENT

King Richard: how to watch on HBO Max and cinemas

'King Richard' portrays the power behind the Williams sisters' throne. Long before Venus and Serena were old enough to pick up a tennis racquet, their father had their future mapped out.

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King Richard: how to watch on HBO Max and cinemas
HBO

Long before Venus and Serena Williams were old enough to pick up a tennis racquet, their father had their future mapped out.

His story is the heart of the new film "King Richard," opening in U.S. movie theaters and HBO Max on Friday (19 November), and made with the backing of the Williams family and a rousing song by Beyonce.

Although Venus and Serena Williams are now household names and icons of Black female empowerment, the tale of how they reached the heights of sporting fame from a hardscrabble neighborhood in Los Angeles is barely known.

Played by Will Smith, Richard Williams was coach, dad, and promoter of the girls, training with them on broken-down public courts in 1990s South Los Angeles, collecting discarded balls, and battling derision and skepticism to get them attention.

"It's like asking someone to believe you have the next two Mozarts living in your house," one early skeptic tells him.

"Richard had this vision and really wrote a 75- or 80-page manifesto before Serena and Venus were born that they were going to have two more kids and they were going to become the top two tennis players in the world," said Tony Goldwyn, who plays Paul Cohen, their first professional coach.

Williams was a big personality who constantly challenged Cohen's training methods and technique.

While the film uses authentic players as doubles for much of the action, actors Demi Singleton (Serena) and Saniyya Sidney (Venus) had to undergo months of intensive training to learn how to hit the ball, serve and play the kind of power tennis the young sisters were known for.

"They're such extraordinary people and they're very nice. Such big hearts," Sidney said. "They gave us great advice on just growing up in this world and how they felt when they were a kid and to always make sure you stay close to your family."

How to watch 'King Richard'

In the US, 'King Richard' gets a simultaneous movie and HBO Max release with initial reviews for the film proving to be positive with a 91% rating on Rotten Tomatoes platform and a 76% rating on MetaCritic with the Wall Street Journal claiming that the movie is: 'marvelous fun from start to finish'.