Demi Singleton and Saniyya Sidney open up about ‘King Richard,’ playing Venus and Serena
Exclusive: "They were humble at such a young age, but it was so important for them to have fun," Sidney tells theGrio of tennis legends Venus and Serena Williams.
King Richard is finally out in theaters, and theGrio got a chance to sit down with the young stars of the film, Demi Singleton and Saniyya Sidney.
One of the year’s biggest films, King Richard follows Richard Williams, coach and father to two of the greatest tennis players of all time: Venus and Serena Williams. Focusing especially on the early days of their professional careers, the film stars Will Smith as Richard as he fights hard to break the boundaries and jump the hurdles in his daughters’ way.
While Smith, a huge movie star, may be the draw for many with this film, newcomers Singleton and Sidney prove to be both a powerful and pleasant surprise as young Venus and Serena.
Playing two tennis legends meant a significant amount of training for the young actors, which they said wasn’t a problem at all. “We both didn’t know tennis at all, really. I took three tennis lessons for the audition and then that was it! Once I booked it was when tennis training actually started,” Singleton said.
She added with a smile, “things got very serious!”
Sidney shared that she simply “fell in love with tennis so much.”
“You have a different relationship with the sport once you understand it…being in the headspace of Venus and Serena, we totally understood why it was so much fun for them,” she said.
She also hinted at the intensity of their training once the film started: “As soon as I booked the role it was like, ‘Oh no, you’re gonna work out!'” Sidney said. Singleton chimed in, “Oh yeah, it wasn’t just tennis, it was actual working out too. Like we would do tennis training and then right after we’d go drive to the gym and do like, conditioning and then PT after.”
The film also gave the actresses an opportunity to learn more about the personal lives and childhoods of Venus and Serena. Just like much of the audience, both girls did not know going in just how close-knit their family was.
Singleton explained, “I didn’t know how involved everyone was, I knew about Richard and how he helped Serena and Venus, but I didn’t know that Miss Oracene [Price] and the other three sisters were involved. They were there for them every step of the way.”
Sidney also stressed the importance of remembering that even though they’d go on to be known around the world, they were just kids. “They were humble at such a young age, but it was so important for them to have fun. Mr. Richard always made sure they did…even now they have so much fun whenever they play!”
Singleton chimed in, “it doesn’t feel like work at all!”
King Richard is out now in theaters and streaming exclusively on HBO Max.
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