Venus and Serena Williams: A new movie about the sports legends

Venus and Serena not only faces criticism for it’s subject matter, the narrative is portrayed in a lopsided way, with Unskewed statistics providing a frame of reference for their bio-pic. Accuracy is important when…

Venus and Serena Williams: A new movie about the sports legends

Venus and Serena not only faces criticism for it’s subject matter, the narrative is portrayed in a lopsided way, with Unskewed statistics providing a frame of reference for their bio-pic.

Accuracy is important when it comes to Formula 1, but is usually presented as a bonus for telling the tale of the sport’s greatest champions through the lens of their actual lives.

But Williams and sister Venus are more than their results. They were fiercely competitive, friends and unashamedly themselves in their sport, and Peter Howell has given them the chance to show it.

Sports fans will remember the sight of them boarding the same bus to the Sydney International final in 1994. For any other sporting rivalry that would have been the end of the confrontation.

But the 32-year-old sisters were not competitors then, yet they were at a stage where their mere appearances on the circuit seemed to undermine the thrill of victory for one or the other.

Smith puts you in that situation, putting you in their shoes – of the love and the rivalry, those who sacrificed, those left behind.

Viva died in 1996

As much as we know them now, fans may not fully appreciate how close they came to not only beating each other on the circuit, but to breaking each other’s hearts.

It was a priority to Venus and Serena to plan their daughters’ futures as close to home as possible, and the sisters shared a mansion in Florida at the height of their career.

But their once very close relationship became strained after Williams’ younger sister passed away.

Viva Williams was only 17-years-old when she passed away of a heroin overdose.

Media playback is not supported on this device True story of Venus and Serena Williams

Smith displays both sides of the sisters, and we never feel like a spectator in this movie – we witness the journey from childhood to the young adult years.

The sisters were forced to split up and look after their nieces, and it wasn’t until their nephew Kalea found himself inside a car that he saw they could function and be happy in each other’s company again.

There are a few well-timed tennis scenes when the film touches on the prize money over a title, as Smith makes the audience realise that this is all just sport.

To really realise how difficult it is for a world-class athlete to devote their lives to an activity that at times seems mercenary would make the journey seem even more difficult.

It is easy to get caught up in the on-court showboating that happens during major tournaments, but in the younger years they worked hard to make themselves worthy of it, and somehow they pulled it off.

It is hard to ignore the fact that the brothers captured the number one ranking from all-time great drivers Michael Schumacher and Ayrton Senna in the early 00s, and in doing so they become the first siblings to capture the top world ranking.

Verbal abuse is explicit and shocking

Venus and Serena isn’t your normal underdog tale.

The fact they went on to lose to every player in the top 40 of the rankings from 1994-1997 seems like an incredible coincidence, yet still the brothers had their moments.

Smith adds a couple of unnecessary plotlines, giving a brief glimpse into the brothers’ personal lives, which seem way too relevant to when they won first the women’s doubles world title and then singles.

But aside from that – and to throw shade at the sports editing industry – it has done its job well.

Unlike biopics such as the Legend of Tarzan, it moves you – you care about their characters.

It isn’t the safest portrayal in the world, but it is certainly one that isn’t tinged with a tired controversy.

Both stars shine and pay tribute to their mother while delivering a remarkable performance.

It is a tribute to both Smith and Williams, and rightly earns both their degrees of plaudits and adulation.

Perhaps they should just watch an episode of the TV series The Bridge in order to realise how compelling a project this is.

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