Serena Williams is known for being one of the best tennis players in the world. Having gone pro as a teenager, Williams has been dominating the court ever since, racking up dozens of titles and becoming a celebrity in her own right, but many people might be wondering who are Serena Williams’ parents?
Serena Williams’ parents are Richard Williams and Oracene Price. Many who watch tennis are familiar with Richard, who trained Serena and her sister, Venus, when they were children, and controlled their careers for years, but less are familiar with Oracene, who had an equally large impact on her daughters and their careers.
Read more below about Richard and Oracene and the lasting impact they had on the world of tennis.
Richard Dove Williams Jr. was born February 14, 1942 in Shreveport, Louisiana. Richard was the youngest of five children, and the only boy in his family. Richard grew up in poverty, and often faced racial discrimination, though he always managed to help his family out food on the table.
After graduating from high school, Richard moved to Chicago in search of work, but eventually settled in California. It was here he would meet his first wife, Betty Johnson, and the couple would have five children before divorcing in 1973.
In 1979, Richard would meet Oracene “Brandy” Price, a woman with three children from a previous marriage. The couple would marry in 1980 and have two daughters of their own, Serena and Venus.
A New Beginning
Oracene Price was born in Saginaw, Michigan on April 3, 1952. She graduated from high school in 1970 and attended Western Michigan University.
Oracene’s first husband, Yusef Rasheed, passed away in 1979. Price was working as a registered nurse, and first met Richard Williams when they attended the same church in Watts.
Unbeknownst to the couple, they would raise two of the best athletes of all time. Their daughter Venus was born in 1980, and Serena Williams was born the following year in 1981.
Training the Titans
Richard was working at a small security firm of six employees, but spent much of his free time watching tennis matches on television. Despite not knowing how to play tennis himself, Richard became infatuated with the idea of turning his daughters into professional tennis players, after seeing a player accept a $30,000 check for winning a tournament.
He wrote a 78-page business plan for his daughters’ career, and supposedly started taking tennis lessons from a man named “Old Whiskey,” whom Richard paid in liquor. Somewhere in the mix, Oracene learned to play tennis as well.
With a plan in place, Richard began to train Serena and Venus on the public courts in their Compton neighborhood. Serena Williams was only 3-years old, but they spent hours a day practicing.
Both Serena and Venus had to take cover from the gang gunfire in the area numerous times while training in Compton. When they weren’t training, they were home-schooled by Oracene, rather than attend regular school, which gave both sisters ample time on the tennis courts.
Rules and Religion
Richard and Oracene ran a strict household that revolved around Serena and Venus’ tennis training, with the other siblings having to help out on the tennis courts, collecting and loading the balls, and all of the kids had a strict bedtime of 10 p.m. each night. Serena Williams’ half-sister, Isha Price recalls of their unusual childhood, “It wasn’t until I got to college that I realized that our lives weren’t what other people considered normal.”
Not only did Richard and Oracene keep their children on a tight leash, but the family members were devout Jehovah’s Witnesses, meaning the family went door to door to spread word of their faith, as well as not celebrating most traditional holidays or birthdays.
A Family of Legends
Eventually the family relocated to Florida so that Serena and Venus could train at Rick Macci’s legendary tennis camp. From there both Williams sisters would turn pro and have long and illustrious careers as professional athletes, though Richard and Oracene remained fixtures in their daughters’ careers.
You can watch a video about the Williams family and the early days of Serena’s career in the YouTube video below.
Richard and Oracene divorced in 2002, though Serena still remains close to both of her parents.
Williams even recently shared a snap of her daughter, Olympia, along with Oracene on Instagram.
Not only that, but Oracene can often be found accompanying Serena on trips to aid with charity. Richard was inducted into the American Tennis Hall of Fame and wrote an autobiography, Black and White: The Way I See It, in 2014.
Despite the early challenges the family faced, it’s clear that both Richard and Oracene played a huge part in Serena’s career and helped to change the game of tennis forever.