‘The next female Michael Jordan’ – legendary coach recalls coaching Venus and Serena Williams
Iconic coach Rick Macci felt Serena and Venus Williams “could transcend the sport” upon first meeting and described coaching them as “the best decision I ever made.”
After the recent release of the film King Richard, a biopic about Serena and Venus Williams’ father, former coach Rick Macci remembers when he was first introduced to the sisters and his initial reaction.
Serena was the more successful sister, winning a record-breaking 23 Grand Slam singles titles, two doubles Slams and four Olympic gold medals. However Venus also won two doubles Slams and four Olympic gold medals, as well as seven singles Grand Slam titles.
Macci, who has also coached Maria Sharapova and Jennifer Capriati, admitted in an interview with Essentially Sports that he was initially underwhelmed by the sisters, saying “I was doing drills with both the girls for an hour. In the first hour I’m sitting there going ‘what in God’s name am I doing in Compton, California on a Saturday?’
“I didn’t think they were any better or any worse than maybe 50th, 60th, 70th (ranked) in the nation.
“Then we started doing competitive points … and right then and there it blew my socks off! The whole landscape changed. The footwork got a little better, the preparation got better.
“Once they started playing, [I saw] the burning desire to get to the ball. I never saw this and haven’t to this day!
“I just couldn’t believe the movement. Now I’m thinking six feet, big, strong, fast and they go for the jugular.
“Right then and there that’s when I turn to Richard (Williams) and said ‘you got the next female Michael Jordan on your hands’ and he said ‘no, I got the next two!’
“I told Richard they could not only be the number one in the world someday, they can transcend the sport!
“I didn’t care what was going to happen, all I knew is I was on a mission with Richard to make this thing happen.”
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