Friday, April 5, 2013
Dubbed by many as one of the greatest stories in sports (as a long-time tennis player, I’m a bit biased) the lives and careers of sisters Venus and Serena Williams are now the subject of a new documentary.
Released on iTunes today, Venus and Serena follows the sisters during the 2011 season, as they publicly battled health concerns that threatened to end their success on the court (Serena was just returning from a year-long absence for blood clots while Venus was diagnosed with an autoimmune disease).
But exposing fans to a tumultuous time in their pro careers, now nearly two decades old, had its benefits. From USA Today:
Though  was one of only three years since 1999 that neither sister won a major in singles, Serena called it "great timing."
"You get to see me when I really wasn't doing great, struggling, giving myself my medicine," she said by phone from Charleston, S.C., where she is competing this week. "You can really see the story of how far I'm able to come."
The filmmakers, ABC news veterans Michelle Major and Maiken Baird, became fascinated with the sisters when they broke onto the national stage in the 1990s.
"It's an obvious topic because they are two incredible women who changed a sport," said Major, who with Baird recorded 450 hours of footage.
"They broke just about every barrier as African-American sisters when they became number one and number two in the world in tennis," wrote Baird in an email. "It's the great American story rich with sisterhood, family, race, hard work and tenaciousness."
Baird and Major also use archival footage to take an extensive look at the Williams sisters’ early lives, as young girls growing up in Compton, Calif. predisposed by the words of their father and coach, Richard Williams, that they’d one day be ranked number one in the world (Williams wrote a 78-page “plan” for success before the girls were even born, as seen in the trailer above).
Love them or hate them (tennis fans would be hard-pressed to find two more controversial women in the sport, past or present), the Williams sisters have been present in the sport for so long that dominance is practically expected (their combined 22 Grand Slam singles titles are living proof of that).
“With their injuries, it’s kind of woken people up to the reality that there will be a tremendous void when they’re gone,” weighs in a voice at the end of the trailer. Venus and Serena will also begin a run in theatres on May 10, and features cameos from former pro John McEnroe to Anna Wintour.