Venus and Serena Williams have withdrawn their support of a documentary that chronicles their life because they are displeased by the film’s depiction of their philandering father, Richard Williams.
The sisters were expected to make a red carpet appearance this week at the Toronto International Film Festival, where the movie is being premiered. They had given unprecedented access to the filmmakers, ABC News veterans Maiken Baird and Michelle Major, to follow them around over the course of a year and shoot 450 hours of footage of their intimate lives for a documentary that charts their rise from Compton to the top of the tennis world. Called “Venus and Serena,” the film even followed the ladies into hospital rooms during their various medical issues. The sisters put no restrictions on the filmmakers.
The weekend triumph of Serena at the U.S. Open, where she won her fourth U.S. Open singles titles, was expected to give the film premiere an air of celebration. The premiere was scheduled at a time that would allow the sisters to attend.
The fimmakers wooed the sisters for nearly four years before they agreed to do it. They began following them around the world in January 2011.
But after watching the film, Venus in particular was unhappy over the way their father Richard is portrayed as a controlling figure. It also scrutinizes his personal life and the children he fathered out-of-wedlock.
After Venus consulted with the filmmakers, they apparently made some tweaks, but she was still unhappy with the result—though observers say the film is extremely complimentary to Venus and Serena.
“It’s disappointing to us,” Major told the LA Times. “We have a lot of respect for them and think their story is very inspiring.”
“We think this is an important story, and we can only hope Venus and Serena come to see it that way too,” said Baird.