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Is Richard Williams, Serena And Venus’s Dad, The Greatest Coach Of All Time?



Let’s go on to a more intriguing topic: Richard Williams’s coaching of his daughters.

The Williams sisters have 30 grand slam singles titles altogether. They have played each other in the finals nine times. They also have 17 doubles titles playing together in only 33 major appearances along with three gold medals in Olympic doubles.





A former sharecropper, Richard Williams saw a tennis match on TV and was shocked at the size of the check being handed to the winner. So, as a middle aged black man, he decided to teach himself this remarkably complex game. He then wrote a 78-page plan, scrounged a shopping cart full of balls and taught his two youngest daughters the game.

And did so in a way that would revolutionize tennis. He taught them to serve big and hit hard on every shot from anywhere on the court. On those cracked courts in Compton, with gunfire sometimes echoing in the distance, he invented what Mary Carillo calls “Big Babe” tennis.





Every top player this side of the millennium plays this way, although most not nearly as effectively. Throughout the 2000s, the Williams sisters did things their own way. When his daughters stepped away from the tour for a few months to study fashion, they were criticized for it, but Richard Williams argued that the world is bigger than tennis and burnout can be as formidable as any rival.

When they came back better than ever while other rivals gave up the game, he was again proved prophetic.



Did any of the other greatest coaches ever–Auerbach, Lombardi, Bowman, Stengel, Belichick–accomplish so much with so little? His closest counterpart might be Earle Woods, but Richard did it twice–it’s easy to forget that Venus has as many grand slam wins as John McEnroe–and the ending of the Team Williams story will likely end on a happier note.

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