Book: Williams father played it smart
Tuesday, July 16, 2002 11:31:00 AM
by Dave Rineberg
|USA TODAY SPORTS july 9th
07/09/2002 - Updated 03:52 AM E
Book: Richard Williams played it smart
By Tom Weir, USA TODAY
By Dave Caulkin, AP
The Williams sisters are the dominating force on
the women's circuit.
Serena officially takes over world No. 1
ranking from Venus
Complete Wimbledon coverage
WIMBLEDON, England — With Venus and Serena Williams having
made good on their father's prediction that they one day would
face each other for the Wimbledon championship, Richard
Williams is getting a second look.
Perhaps the closest look available at how the Williamses were
molded into the world's Nos. 1 and 2 women in tennis is
available in a just-published book by their former hitting
In Venus & Serena, My Seven Years as Hitting Coach for the
Williams Sisters (Frederick Fell Publishers, $22.95), Dave
Rineberg says he presents some eye-opening anecdotes about
Richard's eccentricities. But even though Rineberg essentially
was fired by Richard after a 1992-99 run as hitting coach, he
stresses Richard made many key moves that are coming to
fruition for the two most-dominant women in tennis.
"When they were 4 and 5 years old, Richard had that dream, and
he kept them focused on it," says Rineberg, speaking by phone
while on a U.S. book tour. "You've got to give him all the
One of Richard's key moves, Rineberg says, was to heavily
limit his daughters' competition during their junior years.
"His whole plan of pulling the girls and not letting them play
junior tennis, that they were only going to train for the
pros, that was a great plan," Rineberg says. "He also was
really good about pulling them off the court for five weeks at
a time and saying, 'We're going to Disney World.' He let them
have a pretty normal childhood. They weren't burning out."
Those moves look especially smart with signs that Anna
Kournikova's game is in decline and former No. 1 Martina
Hingis is breaking down physically. Both played WTA Tour
tournaments at 15.
"I'm not bashing him," Rineberg says. "But I'm telling some
stories that are pretty far out."
One is of Rineberg's first meeting with Richard, at a car wash
in Florida, where Rineberg says Richard wouldn't start talking
until after activating the machinery.
Says Rineberg: "He said, 'Dave, I hope you don't mind, but
this is to drown out our voices. Everybody wants to know what
my next move is, even the FBI.' "
The Williams sisters spent much of Wimbledon sticking up for
their dad, who wasn't at the tournament. Instead their mother,
Oracene, who's estranged from Richard, accompanied her
daughters to England. Both sisters stressed that both parents
still coach them and they still talk to Richard regularly.
"I speak to him almost every day," Serena said after winning
the doubles titles with Venus on Sunday, one day after Serena
beat Venus for the singles title.
Venus said not having their father at a tournament "makes a
big difference ... He's just so motivating."
Rineberg, who says he was dismissed from the Williams camp
after making himself available for media interviews, isn't
surprised Serena beat Venus for the last two Grand Slam
"I just think Venus lacks that killer instinct against her
sister," Rineberg says. "I don't think Venus backs off, I just
think if Serena is playing well, then she's not going to grind
it out like she would against Hingis or (Jennifer) Capriati."
But Rineberg predicts Venus will regain the upper hand.
"I think Serena could be the stronger player in the short
term, but I don't think so in the long term. I think Venus has
the stronger head," Rineberg says. "Serena has more variety to
her game, but I think Venus is the biggest hitter."
As for Saturday's slugfest, the best Serena-Venus showdown yet
in a major tournament, Rineberg doubts that intensity will
"I think the fire of really wanting to knock each other's
brains out just isn't there," Rineberg says. "They love each
other too much."
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