This is a gripping read and provides a great insight into the strength and determination of the whole family. A lot of this resonated with me and it's the first book I've read in a long while that actually made me want to read. Fascinating and gritty with a great historical perspective on the disgraceful behaviour of whites to blacks.
Overall this is a very good and informative book and could serve as a useful guide for parents in raising children. It also reveals the foundation behind the success achieved by Venus and Serena.
Williams’ upbringing was a humble one in the segregated community of Shreveport where he lived with his four siblings in a house with no bed or in-house toilet. Richard Williams is a man accustomed to standing up to authority; something to which the tennis fraternity can bear witness. Williams repeatedly violated the Jim Crow segregation laws and challenged the Ku Klux Klan (KKK). He infiltrated the KKK by disguising himself as a Klan member and used the cloak of anonymity to physically attack some of the Klan members.
In 1978, he met Oracene Price who had three daughters from a previous marriage. At the time, Williams had no interest in the game of tennis but that all changed one day when he was at home watching television and asked his stepdaughter Yetunde to change the television channel. As she switched the channel, she tuned to a TV station which was showing a tennis match and then turned to another channel. He watched in astonishment as he heard the announcer say, "That's not bad for four days work" in response to the victorious player's $40,000 prize winnings for claiming the French Open title. Williams made up his mind that he would have two children and make them play tennis.
A few years after the birth of his daughters Serena and Venus, he relocated his family from the comfortable terrain of Long Beach to Compton - an area synonymous with drugs, crime, gangs and poverty as he felt the environment would give his daughters a fighter’s mentality.
After moving to Compton, Richard Williams began to realize that things were not going according to plan. His daughters were unable to train on the dilapidated tennis courts of Compton as they were a haven for gang members and drug dealers. This led to clashes with the gang, which resulted in Williams having his nose, fingers and jaw broken. Despite the beatings, Williams refused to give up and in the end gained access to the courts.
To help his daughters achieve his vision, Williams taught them three key principles, namely commitment, confidence and courage. He calls these core values the "Williams Life Triangle."
Racism is a thorn which Williams has had to face from the very day he was born. Indeed, to this day he still feels bitter about the Indian Wells incident which happened thirteen years ago when he and his daughters were jeered because Venus had to pull out of a match against her sister due to injury.
While Richard Williams, like his daughters, may not be appreciated by many because of his outspoken views and his unconventional nature, one thing which cannot be taken away from him is his tenacity; something which has enabled him to overcome racism, segregation and poverty to rewrite tennis history.
I have never written a book review. I am only half way through this book and feel compelled to share how much I am enjoying it so far. I won't give too much away (because you really must read it for yourself). It is at times thrilling, intense, shocking, historically fascinating, funny and inspirational.
Mr Williams shows us that in order to make a real change, a real impact, one of the best things you can do is become successful. I've been a big Serena and Venus fan for a while, but now I am an even bigger Richard Williams fan.
Excellent book - having met Mr Williams, now I know why he gives the 'unapproachable' demeanour. If you haven't walked a step yet alone a mile in a black man's shoes, NEVER judge him. To judge is to sin.
This is an AMAZING read, I was captivated after hearing the opening chapter on a radio show. I immediately ordered my copy and completed it in days. I've always judged Mr Williams as a supportive father; but that is a true understatement of the man. I laughed and cried alongside him, and felt his pain growing up in claustrophobic Shreveport; enthused throughout by his honesty, courage and determination.
Mr Williams I respect you so much! I have learned so much from this one book. I'm so glad I was listening to that show, that night at that time, otherwise I would have never have even known about this priceless gem, that I am already planning to re-read- this time with a pencil to underline and take notes! Thank you Mr Williams for showing us the level of effort required to produce quality.
Richard Williams is the epitome of tenacity, self-belief, and strength. This book is very moving and at times brought me to tears, particularly the segments addressing his most painful childhood memories. It was moving for me as a black woman to read the great strides Mr. Williams made throughout his life despite the potentially crippling horrors he experienced and witnessed.
His daughters, Venus and Serena, are and have been my idols since I was a very young girl. To read about their upbringing, in such detail, was insightful and highly enjoyable and I learnt a great deal that is unavailable and often times censored by the media. The writing style is eloquent and poignant; this book is a must read for those interested in tennis and those who have never watched a full match. You must read this book.
Very rarely one comes across an extraordinary person whose story is improbable. Mr. Williams is one such a person. Being a tennis fun I had seen him in the stands with his large zoom camera when his daughters were playing in tournaments especially earlier on in their career. I wondered how he managed to do what he did. This book is so revealing and I am eternally grateful to him for sharing their story. It's a MUST read for all whether you like sports or not. His and their story is seeped in racism but it transcends racial issues. It's about handling adversity in life. Eternally grateful to Richard Williams for this gift.