Why Watching King Richard Was Bittersweet for Serena Williams and Daughter Olympia

In King Richard, Mikayla Lashae Bartholomew played Serena and Venus Williams' sister Yetunde Price, who was killed in 2003. Here's what it was like for Serena's daughter to see the portrayal.

By Elyse Dupre Feb 16, 2022 6:22 PMTags
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For Serena WilliamsKing Richard is about more than just tennis.

Indeed, the film, which the athlete executive produced with her fellow tennis star sister Venus Williams, is also about family. The movie—which scored six Oscar nominations including Best Picture—tells the story of Venus and Serena's upbringing with their father Richard Williams and their journey to becoming some of the biggest icons in sports history. 

Throughout the film, viewers see not just Venus and Serena (played by Saniyya Sidney and Demi Singleton) and their dad Richard (portrayed by Will Smith) on the screen, but also their mother Oracene Price (played by Aunjanue Ellis) and their sisters YetundeLyndrea, and Isha Price (portrayed by Mikayla Lashae BartholomewLayla Crawford and Daniele Lawson), who Oracene welcomed during a previous marriage.

Seeing Yetunde—who was shot and killed in Compton, Calif. in 2003—be portrayed in the movie was an emotional moment for Serena. And during her joint interview with Venus for Harper's Bazaar's March legacy issue, she recalled showing the film to her 4-year-old daughter Alexis Olympia Ohanian Jr. 

"We made sure to take out the stuff that was not kid friendly," Serena told the magazine, but she noted she was surprised that "it was really more about her saying to me, 'Tunde.' She never met my eldest sister. She says she understands that Tunde isn't around. That was interesting for me in a sad way, but she at least knows her a little bit better."

Serena Williams Through the Years

Serena and Venus also opened up about what it was like seeing Mikayla act as Yetunde during a November episode of Red Table Talk. "I think I cried the whole time," Serena said. "Whenever she came on film, I just—personally, I just started, like—I mean, even still."

SGranitz/WireImage for ESPN

Added Venus, "She knew how to have fun. She was original Team V. Before there was a Team V, she was Team V."

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