Father knows best

A new DVD focusses on the game's most famous dad, Richard Williams

Over the last year, Richard Williams has all but disappeared from public view during his daughters' matches. But in the new DVD Raising Tennis Aces: The Williams Story (Xenon Pictures), he's front and centre.

Directed by Terry Jervis, a British filmmaker whose previous work includes rap videos, Raising Tennis Aces is billed as a behind-the-scenes documentary on Venus and Serena. Does it deliver? Yes and no. The film has terrific home videos of the sisters playing tennis and clowning around when they were knee-high. But Raising Tennis Aces is best described as an authorised biography that portrays Richard as a genius coach. There's hardly a mention of the girls' mother, Oracene Price, and little commentary from anyone outside the Williams' circle. These omissions aren't surprising: The film's executive producer, Leland Hardy, is a longtime friend of Richard's.

After introducing the sisters, Jervis traces Richard's roots to his family's homestead in Shreveport, Los Angeles, where Richard, sitting outside his childhood shanty, talks about growing up in the segregated South. Then it's onto Compton, California, and the court on which Richard butted heads with gang members. Finally, Jervis shows Dad at the family compound in Palm Springs, Florida, with Venus and Serena as they prepare for Wimbledon 2001. Take it from us: You'll get a kick out of Richard's unorthodox training methods. — Allen St. John