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King Richard - What We Know So Far

Venus and Serena Williams are two of the most recognizable names in tennis. The sisters and professional tennis players have a whopping 30 Grand Slam title wins between them. The Olympic gold medalists have made a name for themselves in the history of American sports, but are you familiar with how they got started? More specifically, what do you know about their father's integral role in their future athletic greatness? That's the story that the upcoming film, "King Richard," is set to tell.

The movie will tell the story of Venus and Serena's dad, Richard Williams, who coached them from an early age alongside Oracene Price. It's set to debut on HBO Max and in theaters, keeping with Warner Media and HBO Max's deal to simultaneously distribute all of the company's major film releases on the streaming site and in movie theaters.

With an iconic family at its center, "King Richard" could turn into the next big a hit for HBO's fledgling streaming service and tell a memorable origin story in the process. Here's what we know about this movie.

When is the release date of King Richard?

"King Richard" is expected to debut on HBO Max and in theaters on Friday, November 19, 2021. In December 2020, Warner Media and HBO Max came to the agreement that all new Warner Bros. film releases would debut on the platform and in theaters on the same day, hoping to boost revenue. However, according to the agreement, "King Richard" will leave HBO Max a month later, on December 17, 2021.

The film was first announced in March 2019. It was written by Zach Baylin, with actor Will Smith attached to star as Richard Williams. Around that same time, Warner Bros. won the movie rights. The following June, Reinaldo Marcus Green was hired as the director.

"King Richard" began filming in Los Angeles in January 2020, although production was soon delayed by the onset of the coronavirus pandemic. However, given that the film is sticking to its November release date, we can assume it will still be ready for audiences this fall.

Who is in the cast of King Richard?

Smith will play Venus and Serena's tennis coach and father, Richard, and he's no stranger to playing important father figures in movies. The acclaimed actor starred alongside his real-life son Jaden Smith in the 2006 biopic "The Pursuit of Happyness," a performance which earned him Oscar, Golden Globe, and Screen Actors Guild nominations. His daughter, Willow, also appeared alongside Smith in the 2007 post-apocalyptic thriller, "I Am Legend."

However, Smith is also part of a larger ensemble cast. Young actresses Demi Singleton and Saniyya Sidney will play Serena and Venus, respectively. Although Sidney is only 14, you may already recognize her from her work in the horror series, "American Horror Story: Roanoke," and the historical drama, "Fences," both of which debuted in 2016.

Meanwhile, actress Aunjanue Ellis will play Brandi Williams, and "The Punisher" star Jon Bernthal will portray former American tennis coach, Rick Macci. 

Susie Abromeit, Dylan McDermott, Katrina Begin, and Judith Chapman will also have roles in the film. In October 2020, Tony Goldwyn joined the "King Richard" cast as well, replacing actor Liev Schreiber after he was forced to drop out due to a scheduling conflict.

What is the plot of King Richard?

"King Richard" tells the story of Serena and Venus Williams' father, Richard Williams, who played an active role in coaching the girls from an early age and helped prepare them for sports greatness. It seems likely that the film will also explore Williams' origins as a young man from Louisiana, where he began taking tennis lessons and decided his future children would be tennis pros after seeing former tennis player Virginia Ruzici play on television.

In a January 2021 interview on "The Kelly Clarkson Show," the real Venus Williams revealed she was "very excited" about the upcoming biopic. "It's very exciting. It's really about my dad, and how he literally changed the game, and how this all started," Williams said. "He's a revolutionary kind of person, and I love him to death."

Fans of the Williams family can look forward to seeing how the iconic sports patriarch and his extraordinary athlete daughters' stories are brought to life when "King Richard" debuts later this year.