KING RICHARD*CUT TO THE CHASE*
The film opens with Richard Williams (Will Smith) at a country club trying to speak to tennis coaches about becoming a coach for his daughters, Venus and Serena (Saniyya Sidney and Demi Singleton), as he has been preparing them constantly for their greatness in the sport. Each man he speaks to turns Richard down, either because of his background or because they are used to parents pushing for their kids to be trained as the next big athletes.
Venus and Serena pass phone books around their neighborhood in Compton. They get to the house across the street from theirs belonging to Mrs. Strickland (Erika Ringor). She frequently criticizes Richard’s parenting because she notices him making the girls practice out in the rain. Richard walks over and tells the girls not to talk to Mrs. Strickland and vice versa because all she does is try to rile him up.
Richard goes into the house where he lives with his wife Brandy (Aunjanue Ellis) and her daughters Tunde (Mikayla Lashae Bartholomew), Isha (Daniele Lawson), and Lyndrea (Layla Crawford). Richard gathers the girls in his bus and takes them to the park where he can practice with Venus and Serena. While Tunde is studying, she is harassed by a thug named Roc (Craig Tate), who makes crude comments to her. Richard gets the girls in the bus and confronts Roc, telling him that he has told him countless times to stop harassing Tunde, but Roc and his boys just insult Richard, and Roc punches and kicks him. When they return home, Richard talks with Brandy, who expresses concern with how Richard wants to prepare the girls for greatness, but he is confident that Venus and Serena will become legendary. He then goes to his night job as a security guard, where he continues to look for someone to coach the girls.
Richard meets with Vic Braden (Kevin Dunn) after having watched his instructional video, and he presents a video to Vic in person showcasing Venus and Serena’s talents, but while Vic thinks they are good, he declines to take them on for coaching.
After taking the family out for dinner that night, Richard goes to the park to practice alone. Roc and his goons show up to taunt and harass Richard again. He attempts to walk away from them, but when Roc makes more crude comments about Tunde, Richard whacks him in the face with his tennis racket, and Roc’s guys start beating Richard. Roc gets his gun out and threatens Richard with it, but then decides to leave him alone because nobody will care for him. Richard then gets his gun from his job and drives around the neighborhood looking for Roc. He finds them outside a store, but as he starts walking toward them with a gun, another car drives by and shoots Roc dead, prompting Richard to leave immediately. He returns home, where Brandy tends to his wounds.
The next day, Richard takes Venus and Serena to a country club where he hopes to talk to Coach Paul Cohen (Tony Goldwyn). They find Paul practicing with John McEnroe (Christopher Wallinger) and Pete Sampras (Chase Del Rey). Although Paul insists that he is not taking Juniors, Richard twists his arm long enough for Paul to allow the girls to show what they’ve got. He hits a few balls with Venus, and he is genuinely impressed with what he sees. Later, Richard returns home with the girls, who tell their sisters that they got a coach. However, Richard tells Brandy that Paul is only interested in coaching Venus for free.
Richard takes Venus to be coached by Paul, while Brandy stays to help coach Serena. Richard bothers Paul with how he tells Venus to open her stance, since Richard believes he knows what the proper stance should be for her to play. Later, Paul shows Richard and Venus a video of Jennifer Capriati (Jessica Wacnik) to convince them that Venus should start out playing in Junior tournaments. They are onboard.
Venus is entered into the Junior tournaments, where she faces off against other girls her age, and she subsequently beats all of them. After one tournament, the girls are all celebrating and bragging about Venus’s win. Richard has them go into a shop all together, and he starts driving the bus home because he told them not to brag and is ready to make them walk three miles home until Brandy chastises him and makes him pull over so they can catch up to the bus. When they get home, Richard makes them watch “Cinderella” to teach them a lesson about humility.
After practicing at the park, Richard comes home to find some agents from Social Services having been called to the house by Mrs. Strickland under the belief that the girls are being abused. Richard proves to the agents that the girls are fine and receiving care and education. Brandy later goes to confront Mrs. Strickland for making the call to subtly threaten her.
The family later goes for another tournament for Venus, but Serena manages to get into a court for herself to play in without Richard knowing. He and Brandy find out after another parent comments that Richard has two incredibly athletic daughters. He walks with Brandy to find Serena playing and acknowledges that she is just as great as Venus.
The girls are gathered with other players while Nancy Reagan (Judith Chapman) gives a speech. While this happens, Paul introduces Richard to sports agents George MacArthur (Dylan McDermott) and Laird Stabler (Andy Bean). The meeting goes well until Richard feels insulted that Laird refers to Venus’s victories as “incredible”, feeling that it is only that way to them because it’s a black girl winning. Although Laird and George try to explain themselves, Richard just farts and walks away from them. Paul later goes to talk to Richard and Brandy over the incident, and because Richard wants to pull Venus out of Juniors and have her go up against more professional players. Richard cuts ties with Paul because he doesn’t feel that Paul is working up to Richard’s standards and doesn’t have their best interests at heart. Brandy is none too pleased with how Richard handled everything.
Richard later gets in touch with Rick Macci (Jon Bernthal) to become a new coach for both Venus and Serena. He is impressed with them and offers them a chance to train out in Florida. Richard convinces Rick to allow the whole family (minus Tunde because she is focusing on her studies in college) to move out there together. They all move out there, where Richard quickly attempts to step on Rick’s toes over how he will coach the girls.
Some time passes, and Rick is shown to be proud of Venus’s work. Richard pulls her out for an interview and has Serena fill in with Rick. During the interview, Richard cuts off the interviewer to scold him for asking Venus certain questions, telling him to let her be a kid. Rick later tells Richard about a tournament in Oakland where they could let Venus compete, but Richard isn’t happy with Rick talking to people behind his back. Rick attempts to persuade Richard, but he chooses to think about it.
Richard later sees a news report about how Jennifer Capriati was arrested for drug use, after Richard had asked Rick if it was true that Jennifer (who was formerly coached by Rick) had dropped out of the upcoming tournament because she was burnt out. Richard then takes the family to Disney World instead of practice. They get home and find Rick waiting for them, and he confronts Richard for bailing on practice. He tells Rick that he doesn’t want the girls to end up like Jennifer. Rick hits back that Richard keeps doing everything for himself while pretending it’s all for the girls. Venus walks out of the house in frustration, leading to Richard and Brandy arguing in the kitchen, where she says she is only staying with him for the sake of her daughters.
Richard practices with Venus at night, where she insists that she wants to compete in the tournament, but she feels he doesn’t think she is ready. Richard then tells her about how when he was a boy in Shreveport, he accidentally touched a white man’s hand, and he and his friends beat Richard up while he watched his father run away. He promised himself that he would never run away from his children.
The family heads out to Oakland for the tournament. They meet with an agent who wants to sign Venus in a $3 million deal, but because the family isn’t ready to decide, the agent tells them that the offer is available until the tournament begins. Richard expresses his doubts over the deal to Rick, even though he thinks Richard is crazy to try and want to turn this down. Venus tells Rick that she wants the agents to see how good she really is. After the conversation is over, the family is surprised by Tunde showing up for the competition.
Venus first goes up against Shaun Stafford (Kaitlyn Christian). Although the match is intense, Venus comes out victorious. Rick later finds out that Venus is set to go up against the top tennis player in the world, Arantxa Sanchez Vicario (Marcela Zacarias). Rick is not confident in Venus winning, but Richard is.
Before the next match, Richard finds Serena staring at the arena. He knows that she feels left out, but he tells her that while Venus will become a great athlete, he believes Serena will be the greatest of all time.
The night of the big match comes. Venus braids her hair and comes out onto the court to face Vicario. She starts off strong, which infuriates Vicario. There is a break where Vicario tells others she is going to the bathroom, but she takes too long in what is seen as an intentional show of disrespect against Venus. When she returns, Vicario begins to dominate and eventually defeats Venus.
Venus later cries in the locker room, but Richard and Brandy go to cheer her up and assure her that this is not the end for her. When they walk outside the field, they find other young girls cheering Venus on and seeing her as a champion for them. The whole family, plus Rick, looks on proudly.
The ending text states that nine months later, Venus signed a contract with Reebok for $12 million at the age of 15. Serena later joined Venus on tour two years later, although Richard still put their education and family above competing. At the age of 41, Venus has won Wimbledon five times, becoming the first African American woman to be ranked number one. At age 40, Serena became a 23-time grand slam champion and is considered to be THE greatest player in the history of tennis…just like Richard predicted.
Credits show videos and pictures of the real Richard Williams training the young Venus and Serena.
Since before his daughters were born, Richard Williams had long planned for their success as tennis players. He and his wife Brandy have coached Venus and Serena for a long time, and have overcome personal struggles to ensure their success.
Richard gets Paul Cohen to coach Venus when she shows her exceptional potential. However, Richard's ego gets in the way and he cuts Paul out because he disagrees with Richard's decision to pull Venus out of Junior tournaments so she can take on more seasoned players. The family later moves to Florida while Venus and Serena are coached by Rick Macci. He also becomes fed up with Richard's behavior, but after he is dressed down by Brandy, Richard eases up and just lets his daughters know that he wants what is best for them so he can be a better father than his own father was.
Venus later enters a tournament in Oakland. After defeating Shaun Stafford, she goes up against top tennis player Arantxa Sanchez Vicario. Despite starting off strong, Vicario defeats Venus, but while she is upset, her parents encourage her to keep going, and a group of young girls outside the arena look to Venus as a hero.
Venus and Serena Williams later go on to become professional tennis champions, just like Richard knew they would.