A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
Believe in your dreams and seize your opportunities. Talent is one thing, but that only amounts to so much without bravery and determination. Unfortunately, being the best isn't always enough and people will always want to bring you down -- be it through jealousy, racism, or ignorance. But it's those who believe in you who are the ones you need to keep on your side. The importance of family.
Positive Role Models
As world-class champions, Venus and Serena are examples of powerful Black women who have earned their glory through not only hard work and perseverance, but through sisterhood, faith, and a positive mental attitude. The documentary shows their personable and human sides, not just as the most successful, lucrative Black female sports stars ever. Their mother, Oracene Price, also is a doting, encouraging mother and professional coach who doesn't put unrealistic ideals on her daughters, yet still strives with them for them to be their best. She provides the needed balance from their father, Richard, who has more of a specific plan for their success. In spite of his extramarital relationships, Richard is a protective, attentive, and reliable parent who has dedicated his life to the success of Venus and Serena. Despite his involvement with Venus and Serena's careers, he remains actively involved in the lives of his other children.
The subjects of this documentary are two of the most prominent and successful Black sportswomen in history, who are shown to be determined and talented in their rise to the top of their game. Venus and Serena's family has marital complications. But everyone is on the same team -- there's no such thing as "half" sisters or brothers in this family -- and love and determination keeps them together. Together they buck the trend of an otherwise majority-White sport. The documentary is produced and directed by two women.
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Violence & Scariness
References and brief descriptions to racial violence, including a nail being hammered into someone's leg. Close-up of an operation with some blood seen.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Characters flirt with each other and their are references to extramarital affairs. But relationships come second in these lives dedicated to tennis and each other. Serena practices pole dancing lessons as a way to keep fit.
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Language used includes the "N" word, "pissed," and "ass." "F---ing" is also used, although it is bleeped out.
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Products & Purchases
Reebok, Puma, and Nike in reference to endorsement deals and the sportswear shown.
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Venus and Serena is a 2012 documentary charting the rise of the world famous tennis sisters and includes some racial language and references to violent assaults. The film sees the Williams sisters face racism, career-threatening injury, divorce, and family tragedy on their road to success. But through this, they -- along with their supportive family -- show remarkable courage and perseverance to achieve their goals. Their father, Richard Williams, although portrayed as a "ladies man," is the driving force behind their success and finds himself having to defend the racism their family face. He recalls racist incidents from his own childhood, including when he had a nail hammered into his leg and was called the "N" word. Other language, though infrequent, includes "pissed" and "ass," and "f---ing" is used in a press conference, although it is bleeped out. Littered with cameos, rapper Common, Chris Rock, Spike Lee, Bill Clinton, and Anna Wintour are just some of the talking heads to add color to the conversations about the cultural impact of two of the world's most successful Black female athletes. To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
Is It Any Good?
Despite the meat thrown at this subject, and the radiant personalities of both Williams sisters, this documentary fails to offer much relish. Venus and Serena shimmies from one subject to the next often leaving more questions than answers. The film does boast a host of A-listers, including Spike Lee, Anna Wintour, Victoria Azarenka, and Bill Clinton, all of whom discuss the cultural impact the pair have had. Meanwhile, extended family members are brought to the mix to illuminate their strong family ties and loving personalities when not hitting balls over a net.
The Williams sisters' personal lives and their uphill journeys are just as interesting as their professional triumphs -- particularly their relationships to fame and fortune, the ambitions of their father, and their ambiguous love lives. Yet despite the array of talking heads involved, these subjects are only softly probed and politely glossed over. Perhaps the biggest revelation we learn is how much Serena loves karaoke … and how much better she is at tennis than singing!
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Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.