Professional tennis player Venus Williams took social media to pay respect to her father, tennis coach Richard Dove Williams Jr. The 40-year-old Michigan native shared on Instagram a throwback photo of her and Mr. Williams while she was a kid. “My dad wasn’t afraid to take a risk and do something never done before in the sport of tennis,” she captions the image. “Always take the risk and the leap, it pays off. Thank you dad so grateful!”
Williams added Black History Month as a hashtag as a way to recognize and honor his contributions as an African-American to the sport.
Mr. Williams started coaching sister Venus and Serena when they were four and a half. Years later, the hard work paid off, and in 1999, Serena won the US Open. The following year, Venus won the 2000 Wimbledon title, and the rest is history.
Fans also joined Venus in highlighting the impact of dad in her success. “So much respect for your Dad and what he instilled in you and your sister,” a person wrote. “You and your sister are the reason I started tennis...your dad helped push more than you guys! Touched lives he’ll never met [sic] but will always remember him,” another one revealed.
“I love the story of you and Venus training with your dad, not playing Junior tennis and then taking the world my surprise🎾🎾🎾 Y’all are true champions on and off the court,” a fan said. “Thank you Sir Richard for creating a lane for us brown girls in the tennis world!”
Followers started to share their stories and how Mr. Williams also inspired them. “On a visit to Compton, I watched you guys play on those cracked courts filled with grass patches however your Dad was determined and he made it happen for your family and many more,” a person wrote. “A trailblazer for us all. He showed us what it means to innovate and be unapologetic when claiming dreams.”
“One of the most special men I’ve ever met,” said presenter of Tennis Channel, Prakash Amritraj.
“Your dad and Tiger Woods dad are great men for teaching you all the game. Just goes to show you how much of a difference having a dad at home makes life that much rewarding,” another person added.