Venus and Serena Williams are pretty popular in the world of tennis. Venus Williams is a seven-time Grand Slam title winner, while Serena was a twenty-three-time Grand Slam title winner. But did you know the controversy behind the matches they played against each other?
Richard Williams, the father of the two tennis superstars, was accused of match-fixing when the girls competed against each other. Fans demanded a refund in one match when Venus forfeited the semifinal match against her sister due to tendinitis.
How Did Serena and Venus Williams Reach Tennis Superstardom?
The girls’ father, Richard Williams, had a lot to do with their success. He coached his daughters from a young age, training them hard to dominate the world of professional tennis. But how did it all start?
Richard Williams didn’t have any interest in the sport until one day while relaxing at home. He watched a match during the French Open. It wasn’t the beautify of the sport, or the athleticism displayed that caught his eye. What piqued his interest was the $40,000 prize money that was awarded to the tournament winner.
From that point on, he decided that he would raise champion tennis players. He initially tried to train his wife’s children from a previous marriage, but it was clear that he’d have a better chance training their younger children, Venus and Serena.
People in the community they lived in would recall how Venus and Serena held tennis rackets in their strollers while their parents played in the 80s. The couple learned how to play the game so they could train their girls. Richard himself was a football player and was already in tune with discipline and athleticism.
Venus started training at four years old. Serena tagged along and started playing soon after. The sister-duo hardly left the courts. They were there from the crack of dawn and back again after school.
The family lived in Compton, and it was pretty challenging to find a space for them to train in. Living in a bad neighborhood had challenges. Gangs ran the place and controlled the local parks and dilapidated courts. Richard would often find himself arguing with gang members just to get court time. At times, when things didn’t go his way, he ended up with broken ribs and teeth knocked out. But that didn’t stop him. He was determined. His girls were going to be champions.
It had taken two years and almost destroyed my body and my spirit. But in that moment, none of that mattered. What mattered was the courts were ours.Richard Williams
Venus turned pro at the age of 14 in 1994, and Serena followed the following year. (Source: Biography)
The Controversy Behind Their Matches
There have been several accusations of fixing matches throughout their careers as professional tennis players. During the 1998 Australian Open, Richard Williams was rumored to have already fixed the outcome of their match against each other.
The rumors did not die down, and in fact, lasted for years. Whether or not the rumors are true, one thing is for sure; no matter what happened back then, the Williams sisters have outgrown their father’s influence and built their careers as the strong independent women they are. (Source: USA Today)