‘King Richard’ trailer: Will Smith plays pushy father to tennis stars Venus and Serena Williams

Watch: Will Smith stars in King Richard trailer

By Kevin Polowy

Will Smith is no stranger to sports dramas, having portrayed boxing icon Muhammad Ali in 2001's Ali (which earned the actor his first Oscar nomination) and taken on the NFL in 2015's Concussion (which also earned plenty of awards love).

From the looks of the first trailer for King Richard, Smith could be in the running for a third Academy Award nomination for his latest sporting venture as Richard Williams, the determined dad who rallied Venus and Serena Williams to tennis superstardom.

Given Smith's fatherly role and the film's inspirational tone, however, King Richard actually looks like it has more in common with the actor's 2006 tearjerker The Pursuit of Happiness — the film that netted him his second of two Oscar noms.

'King Richard' (Warner Bros.)
'King Richard' (Warner Bros.)

Written by Zach Baylin and directed by Reinaldo Marcus Green (the 2018 Sundance premiere Monsters and Men), King Richard follows the formative years of the future tennis champs Venus (Saniyya Sidney) and Serena (Demi Singleton) as they defy expectations and emerge out of the rough-and-tumble neighbourhood of Compton, California en route to global domination on the court.

The trailer makes clear Richard strategised his daughters' success in the sport as he tells one person he had a "78-page plan for their whole career before they were even born."

While fans of Venus and Serena Williams, who were both ranked No. 1 in the world at different points and won a combined 30 Grand Slam singles titles, will enjoy moments like their spine-tingling "I'm Venus" and "I'm Serena" introductions in the preview, as the film's title indicates, the story's focus centres on their relationship with and tutelage from their father.

NO COMMERCIAL USE:  Tennis sisters Venus (left) and Serena Williams with their father Richard before an interview with the BBC at the Lawn Tennis Championships, Wimbledon.   (Photo by Michael Stephens - PA Images/PA Images via Getty Images)
ennis sisters Venus (left) and Serena Williams with their father Richard at the Lawn Tennis Championships, Wimbledon (Michael Stephens - PA Images/PA Images via Getty Images)

And Smith looks in top form, introducing a distinctive character that is alternately snappy, strict, funny and teary-eyed.

Venus and Serena, meanwhile, clearly didn't mind deflecting the spotlight to their dad. Both are executive producers on the project, along with their sister Isha Prince.

The UK poster for King Richard (Warner Bros.)
The UK poster for King Richard (Warner Bros.)

Rounding out the cast is Aunjanue Ellis as Oracene "Brandi" Williams, Jon Bernthal as coach Rick Macci, Tony Goldwyn as coach Paul Cohen, and Dylan McDermott as a sports agent.

With tennis generating plenty of headlines from the Summer Olympics in recent days, fans of the Williams sisters (and father) seem fully on board from gauging early social media reactions to the trailer, with many referencing Smith’s Oscar chances, and the occasional other bemoaning the film's focus on Richard:

King Richard is coming to UK cinemas on 19 November.