Richard Williams, the man who molded Serena Williams and her older sister Venus into the tennis stars they are today, suffered a stroke. Lakeisha Williams confirmed her husband fell ill last week before his daughter’s 22nd Grand Slam win.
Lakeisha told Radar Online the tennis coach was hospitalized and released after his stroke but he has been dealing with memory problems. The medical crisis was kept a secret from fans until now, which explains why he was not present at the match.
“His condition is fair – he’s up and walking around but he’s not at 100 percent,” she told the website, which describes the 74-year-old tennis coach’s memory issues as “debilitating.”
“He needs speech therapy, psychological therapy and physical therapy but for now, he refused,” she continued. “I’m trying to get him under control and relaxed so that when we come back from out of town we could try to get that going. But he doesn’t wish to be bothered with anybody.”
After detailing what will be a long road to recovery, Lakeisha – who married Richard in 2010 and shares a three-year-old son with him – describes his memory loss.
“His mind is thinking that they’re going to put him back in ‘prison’ – which is what he calls the hospital,” she explained. “He thinks we are just going to take him back to the hospital, but that is not correct.”
“His mind is telling him that since he was once in charge of his life after what’s happened he’s not accepting it,” Lakeisha continued. “To him, he’s a normal person – nothing happened to him.”
It is currently unknown if Serena’s dad will make a full recovery. His wife said she has accepted his condition and is exercising patience in caring for him.
“We have to let nature take its course,” she said. “I’ve been with him a long time so I know what he’s trying to say. It’s like training yourself for your child – like a baby, you have to think for them.”
Serena and Venus have yet to comment publicly on the matter.