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“Never Played Tennis Before”: How King Richard Actress Became Venus Williams in 6 Months

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Serena Williams, Venus Williams and Saniyya Sidney attend the 2021 AFI Fest Closing Night Premiere screening for “King Richard” at TCL Chinese theatre in Los Angeles

 

The Williams sisters are undoubtedly one of the best-known sibling duos across the globe. Between the two of them, Venus Williams and Serena Williams share 30 singles and 16 doubles Grand Slam titles. They are, inarguably, two of the most dominant players in tennis.

 

 

The upcoming movie ‘King Richard’ brings to light their struggle against all odds to become the legendary players that they are today. Two-time Oscar-nominee Will Smith plays Richard Williams in the movie.

 

 

Venus Williams is played by Saniyya Sydney

Fifteen-year-old Saniyya Sydney, of American Horror Story fame, plays the role of a young Venus Williams. From the early reviews of the movie, both Saniyya and Demi Singleton (who plays Serena Williams) have garnered critical acclaim.

 

 

In an interview with Teen Vogue, Saniyya Sydney reveals the efforts she put into portraying Venus Williams. She described going through multiple rounds of auditions before finally auditioning with Will Smith himself. According to Saniyya, it was her instant chemistry with Smith that bagged her the role in the movie.

 

 

Serena and Venus Williams young

Serena and Venus Williams young

Saniyya talked in-depth about how she emulated the body language and mannerisms of Venus Williams, while also learning the sport from scratch. “I trained for tennis, probably six months. I’d never played tennis before,” Sydney said. Furthermore, the young star had to adapt to playing the game right-handed, like Venus Williams, despite being left-handed herself.

 

 

Sydney spent months trying to mimic Venus’ serve alone. “For months, I started serving with air. I didn’t even use a tennis ball for a long time,” Sydney revealed.

 

 

“Venus told me to be who I am”: Saniyya Sidney

How Serena and Venus Williams' Father Helped Push the Sisters to Stardom

 

 

Talking about her personal takeaways from her role, Saniyya Sidney revealed how she developed a more confident gait. “Her posture was amazing… Very confident, very fierce walk,” Sidney says, before talking about how it has become her natural way of carrying herself.

 

 

How Serena and Venus Williams' Father Helped Push the Sisters to Tennis Stardom

Venus and Serena Williams in 1998

When the sisters met the two young actors portraying them, Sydney reveals what they told them. “They (Venus and Serena) were saying how thankful they were for us telling their story,” Sydney shared. Furthermore, she giggled as she revealed that the sisters gave the two young actors dating advice for their age, too.

 

 

“Venus would always say like be who you want to be and you know, be a beautiful woman in this sport. But at the same time know who you are,” Sydney stated.

 

 

 

Sydney also said she’ll continue playing tennis even after the movie, “I am gonna keep playing tennis… I will never switch to my left hand because it looks so wonky… I’m just going to stick to playing like Venus.”

 

Serena and Venus Williams court

Undoubtedly, Saniyya Sydney’s portrayal of one of the most amazing women in sporting history has given her tonnes of life lessons to incorporate into her life.

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