Richard Williams is an American tennis coach, and father of Venus and Serena Williams.
Williams was one of six children and the only son of Julia Mae Williams of Shreveport, Louisiana.
Richard graduated from high school, moved to Chicago, and eventually to California, where he met Betty Johnson, whom he married in 1965. They had three daughters and three sons before divorcing in 1973.
In 1979 Williams met Oracene Price, who had three daughters by her late husband. They married in 1980 after Venus was born, and lived for a time in Saginaw, Michigan, but eventually moved to Compton.
He took tennis lessons from a man known as “Old Whiskey” and decided his future daughters would be tennis professionals when he saw Virginia Ruzici playing on television.
Williams says that he wrote up a 78-page plan, and started giving lessons to Venus and Serena when they were four and a half, and began taking them to the public tennis courts.
(He now says he feels like he took them too early, and six is a better age.)Soon he got them into Shreveport tennis tournaments. In 1995, Williams pulled them out of a tennis academy, and coached them himself.
Serena won the US Open in 1999; Venus beat Lindsay Davenport to win the 2000 Wimbledon title.
After that victory, Richard shouted “Straight Outta Compton!” (in reference to a song by N.W.A based on that area in Los Angeles) and jumped over the NBC broadcasting booth, catching Chris Evert by surprise and performing a triumphant dance.
Evert said that the broadcasters “thought the roof was coming down”.
Later in his daughters’ careers, he took a less visible role, turning to other interests such as photography.
He raised public interest again after his 2002 divorce from Oracene Price and his appearances with new girlfriend Lakeisha Graham, who is a year older than Venus.
Richard and Lakeisha were married in 2010. Their son, Dylan Starr Williams, was born in 2012.
In July 2016, Williams suffered a stroke prior to his daughters Venus and Serena winning Wimbledon. His wife stated that his condition is fair.
There’s a man behind that tennis-talent curtain and his name is Richard Williams.
Venus and Serena’s father was not only the one who got the tennis phenoms first playing the sport, but also coached them early in their respective careers, leading both to their first Grand Slam titles.
But Williams has not simply been a quiet bystander while his daughters walked the road of on-court dominance.
Quite the opposite. Now, nearly two decades after the Williams sisters first broke onto the international scene, and with Serena going after yet another Wimbledon title, Richard is back in the spotlight, one of the most polarizing figures in the sport.