King Richard

We watched King Richard recently – the story of Richard Williams on his quest to make Venus Williams and Serena Williams world champions. The movie was well done – the story arc was nice, and every actor did a great job.

Seeing the Williams sister in a grand slam final or semi-final was one of the defining tennis memories of my teenage years. That and marveling at Roger Federer’s grace. So, it was lovely to see the “founding story.”

The Williams sisters were a by-product of their father’s drive and determination to get out of a life with limited means. And the movie did a great job portraying the many sides of Richard Williams. He was stubborn, smart, emotional, bossy, supportive, encouraging, attention seeking, and driven all at once. He led the family to phenomenal results all things considered.

But it reminded me of the Polgar family – where the fate of the sisters was decided before they were born. As a parent myself, I found myself wondering about the nature of excellence and our parenting style.

We aren’t in the game of pushing our kids toward a particular destination – sport or otherwise. I’m hopeful there’ll be other ways to inspire a similar work ethic in our kids so they pursue mastery no matter which field they choose. Maybe I could channel my inner Richard Williams once they decide to commit to a path?

Or maybe I’m too privileged or naive or both.

Time will tell.