Recently I saw the Will Smith portrayal of Mr. Williams and family.  Below are articles iI have written, the first in 2007:


Another factor in American tennis can’t be overlooked. The role of parents. Connors (mother ), McEnroe (father), Evert (father), Aggassi (father, brother), and the Williams’ sisters, are ample proof that the tremendous role of parents in the development of Championship level American players. 

Mr. Williams certainly gets the award for “out of the box” results. To train one child to be #1 in the world is amazing, but #1 and #2 at the same time is un- precedented. And done without normal routes of American Junior play and USTA super-support says a lot. I have to say I was disappointed by the way the Williams sisters were often treated by many in American tennis. 


FEB. 2022

Being a tennis teacher/coach,  the film’s depiction of how this happened was both interesting and historical.    Much theory about tennis has evolved in the last fifty years.  Mr. Williams taught himself from this explosion.   Pronation of the wrist when serving,  open stance forehands,  maximum number of hits and drilling, throwing the racket in service motion, ball can serve targets, etc.

The names of Braden, Macci. many players, country clubs to ghetto,  spot on.

Many have noted tennis at high level is like fighting with rackets  rather than gloves.  How the trainers brought along young boxers was a common part of understanding that losing (particularly singularly ) is tough.  The choice to skip junior tournaments was maybe the most important and unique choice made.  

There was a more important lesson made in the film and in reality.  A bigger lesson.  Richard Williams showed the route to success in American tennis.  Families are our best teachers and coaches and academies.  No one cares like good parents.

Whatever sport , or whether sports, parental leadership works best.

 The Williams family taught a big lesson.  Richards’ father ran from danger.  When Venus was in her darkest moment he ran to her (‘ I have never been more proud of you”).

He risked his life.  He gave his life.  Give him credit.


Patrick Mouratoglon,  Serena Williams’ tennis coach, said it.  The commentators missed a great chance.  Was the USTA listening closely?  His point about Co Co Gault’s win over Venus Williams was, here is another example of where great American tennis players have come from, then and now.  What better example could you want:  From Richard Williams and Venus and Serena, to 2019 Wimbledon and Co Co and her parents.   The Bryan brothers and their dad,  Isner and his mom, all the  way back to Chris Evert and her father.  Connors and mom.  McEnroe/Father.  No one gives their attention to a child like  parents.   There were five American men entered in the 2019 French Open.  Tiafoe, at #32, was the only seeded American male.  Taylor  Fritz won a first round match.  The rest lost.

For the umpteenth time,  all entities sincerely interested in developing quality American tennis players, should demand a reasonable slice of college tennis scholarships for American students.  Parents need help, a carrot at the end.

Former college tennis players
Jack Kramer, Arthur Ashe, Stan Smith, John McEnroe, Bob and Mike Bryant, Jim Courier, Brad Gilbert, Bill Tilden, Roscoe Tanner, Jimmy Connors, Dennis Ralston, Dick Stockton, Vitas Gerulaitis, Michael Chang, Malavai Washington, Todd Martin, Bob Lutz, Bill Talbert, Tony Trabert,, Vince Spadea, John Isner, Steve Johnson, MANY MORE.

One thought on “PARENTING

  1. Milan Kofol

    Tom. On Saturday April 9, Presbyterian College tennis players and PC recognized Jim Shakespeare for his contribution to PC tennis as well as to the game of tennis. JS coached seven NAIA All American player and 5 top 3 NAIA teams. In 1971 his team captured a second place and had 3 players in the semifinals winning the singles and doubles competition. Jim also played on the PC tennis team between 1956 and 1959. I would like to share a photo of the event..please email me at

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