Will Smith, teen actresses talk about new movie about tennis champions Serena, Venus Williams

ByHosea Sanders and Marsha Jordan WLS logo
Thursday, November 18, 2021
'King Richard' stars talk about new movie about Venus, Serena Williams
"King Richard" tells the story of Venus and Serena Williams, and their relationship with their father who helped push them to success.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- "King Richard" is a new film about Venus and Serena Williams, and the man they called "dad," who put them on the tennis court and the path to success.

Will Smith, who plays the Williams sisters' father, and the teen actresses who play the future champions, were in Chicago last week. ABC7's Hosea Sanders caught up with them while promoting the film and checking out some local tennis kids.

"How challenging was -- you guys did not play tennis at first -- to not only learn how to play tennis, but Venus and Serena tennis," Sanders asked.

"It was a challenge but we were willing to go up there and do our best, and we had so much fun,' said Saniyya Sidney, who plays Venus.

"She had to learn to play like Venus, and Saniyya is left handed [so] she had to learn how to do it with her off hand," Smith said.

Smith plays the dad who knew his girls had champion talent!

"He wanted them to be successful tennis stars, but he and his wife wanted them to be successful humans," Smith added.

"They were lovely. They're such humble women," Smith said when asked if he got a chance to work with both the young actresses.

"Venus and Serena as the two tennis champions who absolutely dominate their opponents, and we were a little nervous," said Demi Singleton, who plays Serena.

When asked if this experience changed her in any way, Sidney said, "I mean, I feel like -- not just as a young woman, but as an actress -- I challenged myself. I've very proud of our work. I think we did such a great job."

"What do you hope will be the message that people will receive from your film," Sanders asked.

"To have faith in yourself [and] in your plan if you have one, in your career, in your support system," Singleton said.

"I hope the younger generation realizes just how humble, but at the same time, strong, and resilient Venus and Serena were. They were amazing, they were powerful," Sidney added. "I want kids to go out there and just tell themselves, 'You can do whatever you set your mind to do.'"

"King Richard" is in theaters and on HBO Max starting Friday.