Venus and Serena Williams have been the face of women’s tennis since the 90’s but the duo didn’t get to the top alone. In fact, the Williams’ success has been a complete family effort.
Parents as coaches, step-sisters as assistants and even post-divorce seating arrangements have made the Williams family one of the most interesting groups in all of sports. Now, as the sisters once again square off, this time in the fourth round of Wimbledon, the Williams family is split down the middle, trying to find some scenario where both Serena and Venus walk away from center court with a victory.
Here’s what you need to know about the Williams family as they try to figure out a solution to their cheering conundrum:
1. Richard Williams & Oracene Price Met in 1979
Both of Serena and Venus’ parents were married prior to meeting in 1979. Richard Williams had been married to Betty Johnson while Oracene Price was married to Yusef Rasheed. Williams and Price married in 1980 after Venus was born and moved their family to Compton, outside of Los Angeles, not long after.
Both Williams and Price each had several children from their previous marriages as well and, over all, Serena and Venus have eight step-siblings.
2. Richard Williams Served as His Daughter’s Tennis Coach Early in Their Careers
After learning the game of tennis from a man he called “Old Whiskey,” Richard Williams started to pass on his talents to his daughters Venus and Serena. According to Williams, he wrote a 78-page plan, detailing the trajectory for his daughter’s careers and, as soon as they could pick up a racket, got to work.
Although Williams was able to get both daughters into the prestigious Shreveport tennis tournaments, he quickly pulled them both out of the private academy and began to coach them himself. Under his guidance, both daughters won their first Grand Slam titles; Serena at the US Open in 1999 and Venus at Wimbledon in 2000.
Still, Williams has rubbed some of the tennis world the wrong way. That includes ESPN’s Jason Whitlock who is convinced that Williams fixes his daughter’s tennis matches.
3. Yetunde Price, Venus & Serena’s Step-Sister, Was Killed in 2003
Yetunda Price was working as a personal assistant to her step-sisters, and still living in the Los Angeles suburb of Compton, when she was shot and killed in 2003.
According to The Daily Mail, Price had been sitting in a vehicle with her boyfriend when an argument broke out. Witnesses claimed that they head about a dozen gunshots. Price was later pronounced dead at the hospital.
Keven Davis, the Williams family lawyer, told media:
They are all devastated. It’s a fluid situation and a lot of reports out there may be inaccurate. We are asking people to respect the family’s privacy and are trying to get as much information as we can. I just talked to Yetunde Friday. She was great. She was upbeat, in a great mood.
4. Williams & Price Divorced in 2002
After an initial separation in 2000, Williams and Price announced their divorce, officially, in 2002. Price, who reverted back to her maiden name after the divorce, released a statement:
I was very honest with our children that a reconciliation would not happen. They’ve accepted our divorce and love us, as we both love them. Richard and I will continue to work together for the good of our girls, and I truly wish him well.
The divorce was finalized as a “no fault” divorce after Price and Williams had originally filed, cited irreconcilable differences.
5. Williams Remarried in 2010 & Welcomed a Son in 2012
After Williams and Price divorced in 2002, Serena and Venus’ father married Lakeisha Graham in December 2010. Graham is 37 years younger than Williams and just one year older than Venus.
The pair welcomed their first child, son Dylan, in 2012. The trio have been seen in the crowd of both Venus and Serena’s matches recently and, are expected, to be at this year’s Wimbledon tournament as well. In fact, the brand-new family is generally seated right next to Price.
Williams told The New Yorker he didn’t want his son to play tennis though, citing the up-hill battle Venus and Serena have climbed:
With the things I know now, Venus and Serena wouldn’t have been there. Look at Donald Sterling. . . . What sport do you think he played? Not one! And he makes enough to pay every single player. He’ll never be a billionaire in tennis.