By Laura Harding, PA Deputy Entertainment Editor
The actresses who play tennis stars Venus and Serena Williams in the new film King Richard, about how their father orchestrated their ultimate domination of the sport, have described how the other Williams sisters helped shaped the film.
Demi Singleton, who plays Serena Williams, and Saniyya Sidney, who plays Venus Williams, star opposite Will Smith in the sports biopic, which was executive produced by the superstar athletes.
Sidney told the PA news agency: “It was amazing because we had her sisters of Venus and Serena, Isha Price and Lyndrea Price and they were there every day, so that helped us a lot.
“Even before we started shooting, we had meetings and sit-down talks with them, all the sisters, and we were just talking about their childhood and how it was at home behind closed doors, things that were private, that we didn’t see of the family.
“That’s something that was important first, to understand the heart of the family.”
She added: “They had a different perspective because they watched them grow into who they are today.
“So when they would explain just how amazing these girls were at such a young age, it was beautiful.
“And something that they always said was, Venus would always be there for Serena, and that means so much to me, that relationship. She told a story about how when Serena had one of our first big events, Venus brought her camera and took pictures of Serena because she was just so proud and she wanted to capture that for her sister.
“Certain things like that, I would hold on to in my heart.”
The film documents how it was Venus who was the focus of the family’s ambitions in the early years, while Serena was still a young child and Singleton said she wanted to show the athlete, who has won 23 Grand Slam singles titles – the most by any player in the Open Era – as she was before she came to dominate the sport.
She said: “I think one of the many interesting things I learned being part of King Richard was that when they first started playing tennis, Serena only went to practise because Venus wanted to practise, and that was something I didn’t know.
“Serena is the GOAT (greatest of all time) and and she’s amazing. But I didn’t know that for a while she was only doing things because of her big sister.
“I thought that was really sweet because it just shows how much they love each other.
“We see in the media that they’re best friends. They love each other so much, but it’s amazing to really learn about them.”
King Richard is out now in UK cinemas.