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Venus and Serena

Venus and Serena

Director: Maiken Baird, Michelle Major

Cast: Venus Williams, Serena Williams


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This profile of tennis stars Venus and Serena Williams explores the sisters' lives and careers, spotlights their approach to the game, and looks at how others have perceived them. The documentary also examines Venus' struggle with an autoimmune disease, and Serena's recovery from a pulmonary embolism.


This profile of tennis stars Venus and Serena Williams explores the sisters' lives and careers, spotlights their approach to the game, and looks at how others have perceived them. The documentary also examines Venus' struggle with an autoimmune disease, and Serena's recovery from a pulmonary embolism.

Editorial Reviews

All Movie Guide - Perry Seibert
Very few professional athletes have dominated their sport as authoritatively as sisters Venus and Serena Williams ruled over women's tennis during their heyday. Both as individual competitors and as the most successful doubles team of their generation, they amassed a record number of Grand Slam and Olympic titles. Maiken Baird and Michelle Major's documentary about the duo certainly celebrates their remarkable achievements, but it only hints at the darker aspects of their personal story. The film crew had access to the pair during the 2011 tennis season, which turned out to be a year when the sisters hardly played at all due to various injuries. The majority of the movie's interest comes not from their rehabbing, but from archival footage of them as youngsters, practicing for hours and hours under the guidance of their father Richard Williams, who -- with his outspoken and gruff demeanor -- became one of the more controversial tennis parents (a subculture known for its often problematic members) of his time. While their international success makes Venus and Serena rich material for a documentary, it's hardly the only fascinating aspect of their lives. That becomes apparent during the latter half of the movie when, having established how they got where they are now, it tentatively explores the psychological makeup of the sisters. Venus, the elder of the two, seems to retreat from the film, in large part because she comes off as a stable person with interests beyond tennis. During interviews throughout the picture you realize that she doesn't define herself by her sports career. Serena, on the other hand, appears ready for her own reality series. The younger sister revels in discussing a half-dozen or so personalities she not only has, but has named -- their mother and other people in their circle also call these alter egos by their respective names. Serena is asked about her occasional on-court tantrums, including an infamous U.S. Open match in which, after being called for a foot fault, she physically threatened a line judge. Those who know her blame it on one of her other personalities, but the filmmakers attempt to put the incident in context by showing profanity-laced tirades from greats like John McEnroe and Jimmy Connors, and serving up talking heads saying that she was likely criticized so strongly for this incident because she was a woman. That argument ignores the fact that in those older clips, none of the guys talk about shoving a ball down an official's throat. That moment -- one for which she refused to apologize for following the match, but did offer a mea culpa three days later after being fined -- becomes more telling later in the film when their father, making a joke about how annoying his first wife was, says that too much of anything will drive you crazy. That's an easy laugh line when talking about a relationship, but when you think about how we've seen Richard make his daughters practice repeatedly in their youth, how he worked them and worked them in order to produce a pair of moneymaking machines (they all readily admit he doesn't much like tennis), you want the filmmakers to ask tougher questions of Serena. She's presented as the classic younger sibling who is hyper-competitive with Venus, something big sis notes on camera and may explain why Serena has more wins when they've played each other head-to-head. Yet Baird and Major seem wary of digging too deeply into her psyche. At one point, one of the Williams sisters declares that they don't relate to perfectionists, but they completely understand obsessives. If Baird and Major had tried to get them to be more introspective, the movie would have been a fuller portrait of what someone has to sacrifice to become the best in the world. Considering their climb out of poverty and the racial hostitily they faced becoming the undisputed champions in a sport still dominated by white players, Venus and Serena's story is infinitely inspiring. That alone makes the movie a rock-solid documentary that will appeal to you regardless of your interest in tennis. However, it does leave you with a bunch of questions that you wish the first-time directors had worked up the courage to ask.

Product Details

Release Date:
Original Release:
Region Code:
[Wide Screen]
[Dolby AC-3 Surround Sound]
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Special Features

Deleted Scenes; Trailer; Interview with Director Maiken Baird; Interview with Director Michelle Major; AXS TV: A Look at Venus and Serena

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
Venus Williams Participant
Serena Williams Participant
Bill Clinton Participant
Billie Jean King Participant
John McEnroe Participant
Arnon Milchan Participant
Anna Wintour Participant
Gay Talese Participant

Technical Credits
Maiken Baird Director,Producer
Michelle Major Director,Producer
Henry Adebonojo Cinematographer
Maryse Alberti Cinematographer
Bart Bee Sound Mixer
Jeff Burson Cinematographer
Mark Carey Cinematographer
Cliff Charles Cinematographer
James Clenaghan Cinematographer
Brent Crockett Cinematographer
Kerwin De Vonish Cinematographer
Aimee deSimone Associate Producer
AJ Fielder Cinematographer
Alex Gibney Executive Producer
Rashidi Harper Cinematographer
Wolfgang Held Cinematographer
David Hocs Sound Mixer
Wyclef Jean Score Composer
Sedeck Jean Musical Direction/Supervision
Stephanie Johnes Cinematographer
Stephen Kazmierski Cinematographer
Ronan Killeen Cinematographer
Andre Logan Sound Mixer
Salvador Bolivar Madera Cinematographer
Will Miller Cinematographer
Eric Moorman Sound Mixer
Caleb Mose Sound Mixer
Sam Pollard Editor
Paul Reed Sound Mixer
Slane Roman Cinematographer
Mark Roy Sound Mixer
Sally Swisher Musical Direction/Supervision

Scene Index

Disc #1 -- Venus and Serena
1. I Want To Be A Tennis Player [8:33]
2. Foundation [9:49]
3. Sisters [7:42]
4. Go For It [9:11]
5. Richard and Oracene [6:47]
6. Super Sisters [10:20]
7. Us Against the World [10:55]
8. Private Lives [5:27]
9. Personalities [7:57]
10. Stress Levels [4:30]
11. Defeat to Triumph [5:07]
12. End Credis [10:13]
1. Venus - Hellboy 3
1. Serena Visits Doctor Deland
1. Venus - Candy Addiction
1. Serena - Hot Or Not
1. Venus - Hippocrates
1. Serena - Rogers Cup
1. Sascha - Serena's Hitting Partner
1. Serena Moving Furniture
1. Sascha Gets Flowers For Serena
1. Serena's Ice Bath
1. Serena's Date
1. Venus Coaches Bryant McKinnie
1. Venus and Richard Practicing
1. Oracene Cooking
1. Serena's Stalker
1. Oracene - Mental Toughness
1. Serena and Martina Hingis
1. Richard - Sisters
1. Serena At OPI
1. Serena's Reality Show
1. Serena's Clothing Lines
1. Serena's Work In Africa
1. Serena Is Back
1. Serena On McEnroe
1. Serena's Agent Takes One For The Team
1. Serena Sings Amazing Grace
1. Richard Says Goodbye


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