One of the most powerful moments in King Richard comes when Richard Williams (Will Smith) stops an interviewer who challenges his daughter, Venus Williams, for being so confident.
It’s a beautiful moment in the film, and a beautiful moment in real life. As the clip above shows, it happened almost exactly as it happens in King Richard, nearly word for word.
The main difference is that in the film, the moment happens outside, when in real life it happened indoors. Like all biopics, King Richard condenses and dramatizes key moments to keep the story moving and address general themes.
But some of the most memorable scenes — including Richard Williams standing up for his daughter — happen pretty much exactly as they really did.
A 27-year-old clip of the interview went viral in June after Naomi Osaka opted out of the French Open in order to protect her mental well-being. It was widely viewed as fans pointed out that some things are more important than sports — or headlines.
In the interview, ABC News’ John McKenzie asks Venus Williams, 14, if she can beat a particular opponent. She answers with a smile, “I know I can beat her.”
McKenzie acts surprised.
“You know you can beat her?,” he says, then editorializes: “Very confident.”
“I’m very confident,” she agrees.
“You say it so easily,” he presses. “Why?”
She starts to answer, but Richard Williams interjects.
“Alright. Cut right there if you don’t mind,” he says. “And let me tell you why. What she said, she said it with so much confidence the first time, but you keep going on and on.”
“We can’t keep interrupting,” McKenzie protests. But King Richard has had enough. He walks into the shot.
“You’ve got to understand that you’re dealing with an image of a 14-year-old child. And this child gonna be out there playing when your old ass and me are gonna be in the grave,” he says. “When she says something, we done told you what’s happening. You’re dealing with a little Black kid — and let her be a kid. She answered it with a lot of confidence. Leave that alone!”
And you can read our interview with Demi Singleton, who plays young Serena Williams, here.
King Richard is now in theaters and available on HBO Max.