Friday, May 10, 2013


By Darlene Donloe

Venus and Serena Williams have already made an indelible mark.  They’ve made history as the most successful sisters in athletic history – having dominated the field for more than a decade.

Now there is a new documentary, aptly called VENUS and SERENA, that chronicles their meteoric journey to the top of a field where they weren’t welcomed.  It’s a remarkable look at how two sisters, under the tutelage of a father who knew nothing about the sport, went on to dominate the tennis world. The documentary is out today (May 10) in Manhattan, Los Angeles and Washington.

The documentary has footage from when the girls first took the courts in Compton, Calif. as youngsters, as well as footage from their numerous Wimbledon championships. There is a remarkable look at how much of an influence their father, Richard Williams, was on their success. He had a fierce work ethic that he instilled in the girls that seems to have endured. 

(l-r both pictures) VENUS and SERENA

Their father revealed how, even before his daughters were born, had written a manifesto strategizing how they would make their way to the top.

The cameras roll on the good, the bad and the ugly. It shows the pain, commitment, doubt, heartbreak and fatigue of training their daily training. It’s much more than just practicing tennis. It’s a physical and mental regimen that would make any elite athlete cringe.  There is a look at Serena as she prepares to go into the operating room, how she lost her cool on the court disputing calls and being accused of threatening a line judge, how Venus deals (not so well) with losing match, how the sisters dealt with the murder of one of their sisters and how the two deal with a great deal of criticism from critics and some of their competitors.


Both Venus and Serena, 15 months apart, have had to deal with life and career-threatening problems. Serena suffered a pulmonary embolishm, while Venus was diagnosed with Sjogren’s syndrome.

But, what stands out the most is the love the two sisters, both in their early 30s, have between themselves and with their family members.

It truly is a fascinating look behind the scenes at the two sisters, which isn’t always flattering.


The doc also shows how the women let down their hair.  They love karaoke, although both should not leave their day jobs.

This is a really interesting documentary with a fascination subject matter.  It’s attention-grabbing to see how championships live their lives both on and off the court.

The film includes interviews with Bill Clinton, Billie Jean King, John McEnroe, Arnon Milchan, Gay Telese, Anna Wintour among others.

Produced by Maiken Baird and Michelle Major, edited by Sam Pollard, executive produced by Alex Gibney, music by Wyclef Jean, directed by Maiken Baird and Michelle Major.
VENUS and SERENA: Running Time: 99 minutes; the film is not rated.

On the DONLOE SCALE: D (don’t bother), O (oh, no), N (needs work), L (likeable), O (OK) and E (excellent), VENUS and SERENA gets an E (excellent).

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