Venus and Serena Williams Owe Their $305 Million Tennis Careers To a Man Who Knew Nothing About the Sport

Sisters Venus and Serena Williams have become legends in the tennis world. They started their careers at a young age with the help of their father, Richard Williams. He gave his daughters everything they needed to succeed in the sport.

Although Williams was Venus and Serena’s first coach, he didn’t know anything about the sport. He only became interested in tennis because of the potential payout his daughter could earn.

Venus and Serena Williams are legendary tennis players

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As a tennis coach, Richard Williams helped build two legendary careers. Venus and Serena Williams have dominated the tennis world since turning pro in 1994 and 1995, respectively. The sisters have won 30 grand slam singles titles and 14 major doubles championships. The duo also captured two singles gold medals and three doubles gold medals in the Olympics.

Venus Williams accounts for seven of the 30 combined singles championships. She’s dominated at Wimbledon, winning five of her seven majors there. She has a singles record of 814-258 and earned over $42 million in prize money over her career. According to ESPN, Williams has dealt with Sjögren’s syndrome since 2011, a disorder where the body attacks its own healthy cells that produces saliva and tears. Yet, She is still going strong at age 40.

Serena Williams holds the remaining 23 grand slam titles between the sisters. She’s had a chokehold on the tennis world, having ranked No. 1 in the Women’s Tennis Association rankings for 319 weeks during her career. That is the third-most in the Open Era among female players, according to FOX Sports. Williams thrives at Wimbledon and the Australian Open, winning both events seven times. Her singles record is 851-148, and she’s made more than $94 million in prize money for her career.

The Williams sisters have made a significant impact on the world of tennis and its popularity worldwide. Their legendary careers wouldn’t have happened if their father didn’t stumble upon a tennis match on TV.

Richard Williams didn’t know anything about tennis before coaching Venus and Serena

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Richard Williams is the mastermind behind Venus and Serena’s phenomenal careers. He trained them early in the morning before school and late at night once it was over. However, the iconic tennis coach didn’t know a single thing about the sport until he realized how much his daughters could make if they were successful.

According to, Williams saw a broadcast of the French Open one day when he was watching TV. He wasn’t amazed by the players or the sport itself; he was focused on the prize money. The $40,000 payout he saw made him realize how rich his daughter could be. 

“I wrote an 85-page plan for Venus. I wrote a plan for Serena of what I wish to do, how it should be done, and how I would carry it out,” said Williams in an interview with CNN.

He taught himself the game of tennis with the help of instructional videos and playing with his wife so he could coach his daughters. He started coaching Venus by the time she was four, and Serena wasn’t too far behind.

Richard Williams is a Tennis Hall of Famer

Tennis coach Richard Williams with his daughters Venus and Serena Williams
Tennis coach Richard Williams taught the sport to his daughters Venus and Serena after teaching himself | Ken Levine /Allsport

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Richard Williams has had a remarkable journey as a tennis coach. From knowing nothing about tennis to coaching two of the game’s best players, he was committed to his plan for his children. His work with his daughters was recognized with his induction into the American Tennis Association and Black Tennis Halls of Fame in 2017.

“[Richard] went from scratch, not knowing anything about the game other than seeing the pot he wanted to bring monetarily … and he learned the game, and he taught it to his daughters,” said Dr. Franklyn Scott, ATA President of Education per

Learning the game wasn’t the most challenging part for Williams. He often fought gang members so his daughters could practice at a local tennis court in Compton, California. He also dealt with pesky reporters and white people heckling his daughters, according to

Richard Williams knew nothing about tennis other than it could make his daughters rich. He trained them to become tennis players and is reaping the benefits of his work. He became a legend in the sport, despite having to start from scratch.

Stats courtesy of