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Black and White: The Way I See It Hardcover – May 6, 2014

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Editorial Reviews


Richard Williams has long been widely regarded as an enigma. Now, in his own words he reveals himself as a proud—and sometimes dangerously stubborn—warrior with a keen, incisive mind. Part memoir and part how-to guide on raising children, this is a fascinating tale of a complex character who refused to give up or give in to the status quo. (Nathan McCall, author of Makes Me Wanna Holler)

A tennis coach’s up-by-the-bootstraps memoir about his life and the impact his upbringing had in shaping his tennis superstar daughters Venus and Serena Williams. The book was co-authored by Davis (The Woman Who Can't Forget, 2009, etc.).

The author grew up the son of a single mother and an absentee father with “a terrible reputation for living off women and having babies all over” his then-segregated hometown of Shreveport, La. His mother taught him the importance of remaining peaceful and tolerant in the face of discrimination. But Williams openly questioned the too-accepting attitudes he saw in the African-American community and became an angry, rebellious teenager who learned how to make a profit out of goods he stole from whites. Seeking to escape the violence and racism he saw around him, Williams traveled to Chicago. He continued to prosper but also saw that even successful blacks were resigned to the fact that they “could never have as much as white people.” His next destination was Southern California, where he finally found the opportunities he needed to develop his formidable skills as a businessman and entrepreneur. When Williams accidentally discovered how profitable tennis could be as a profession, he decided to not only learn the game, but also teach it to the unborn daughters he believed would one day be at “the forefront of a white-dominated game.” He read books, talked to experts, watched videos and played in the broken-down courts of South Central Los Angeles. Others scoffed at his plans, which included moving his family from Long Beach to the ghettos of Compton to toughen up the two daughters he eventually had. Williams had the last laugh when both girls went on to become two of the most winning and respected tennis players in the world. Inspiring and tough-minded, Williams’ book is above all a celebration of one man’s resilient, unorthodox spirit. (Kirkus)

“At its core, this is a story about planning for greatness.” (Juicy magazine)

“Tennis coach Richard Williams is a controversial figure in women’s tennis. I read his new book, Black and White: The Way I See It, on a plane ride to Vermont. I could not put the book down. I don’t play tennis and typically don’t follow it with the exception of Venus and Serena Williams. Raised in Compton, California, Venus and Serena Williams with the coaching of their father have dominated women’s tennis for over a decade. Between them, they have won 15 Wimbledon titles, won more Olympic gold medals than any other women in tennis, each been repeatedly named the No. 1 female player in the world and earned almost every major award in the sport. Behind their success stands Richard Williams, their father and tennis coach.

Through unorthodox methods and amid constant criticism, Richard Williams had a grand plan for his daughters. In this inspiring memoir, Black and White: The Way I See It, Williams, for the first time ever, shares stories about the poverty and violence of his early life in Shreveport, Louisiana, in the 1940s. Richard Williams used a unique parenting style as a coach and as a parent. He taught his girls how to think and he was not a super coach who acted like a tyrant. He would pull his girls from tournaments when he thought it was more important that they enjoy the childhood. At the end of the day, Richard Williams overcame major obstacles as a child, raised a loving family as an adult, and along the way, developed two of the greatest tennis players who ever lived.” (Gary Johnson BlackMenInAmerica.com)

About the Author

Richard Williams is an American tennis coach and the father of Venus and Serena Williams.

Bart Davis has written four nonfiction books, The Woman Who Can’t Forget, Closure, Shooting Stars, and Holy War on the Home Front. He is a graduate of the Bronx High School of Science and Stony Brook University and holds a BA in English and an MA in social work.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Atria Books (May 6, 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1476704201
  • ISBN-13: 978-1476704203
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1.2 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (89 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #188,019 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

21 of 24 people found the following review helpful By Herbert L Calhoun on May 6, 2014
Format: Hardcover
Here is the life of a tough black man, told simply and cleanly, a man who endured the worse of racism both North and South, and the worse of ghetto violence in Compton, California, and still lived, not only to tell about it, but to thrive and produce two of the world's greatest tennis pair: Venus and Serena Williams.

Against severe odds -- lack of education, poverty and hatred -- Richard Williams survived, persevered and won. He was run out of Shreveport, La. by the Ku Klux Klan and out of Chicago by racism just as severe, but managed to put himself through school, established several profitable businesses, and then achieved the fondest of all his dreams: producing two of the world's greatest tennis players.

Of all of his dreams, the one closest to his heart was the plan he had put in place even before his daughters were born and even before he had any idea of how to play tennis himself, to make them two of the best tennis players in the world.

Once Venus and Serena were born, he taught them tennis by teaching them about life. Both lessons stuck and he produced not only two of the best women tennis players ever, but also two of the finest human beings ever. Williams' mission was accomplished. What an interesting and heart-warming story. Five stars
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful By JLMK on May 18, 2014
Format: Hardcover
Reading the first chapters of this biography was difficult for me, but I'm thankful that I decided to wade through them nonetheless.

Mr. Williams's biography exposes the reader to a world that, aside from those who directly experienced it, few could even fathom existed.

I don't consider myself to be wet behind the ears on the subject of prejudice and segregation in the Deep South, but even I was completely taken aback by many of the revelations that Mr. Williams chronicled.

Living conditions for an ordinary African American in early-20th-century Shreveport, LA, were a literal living hell!

The extent to which people abandoned their hopes, dreams, and aspirations, and decided to simply "exist," as a way of surviving the harsh realities of life was simply unfathomable.

It is literally a miracle that Mr. Williams was able to survive the triple whammy of not only having an absentee father, but of also being rejected totally and unconditionally by that same "father," add to that the extreme poverty and really lugubrious living conditions that his single-mother-household had to endure.

We also learn about his other struggles in Chicago (also unfathomable) and in California, particularly in Compton.

Incredibly, Richard Williams was probably a millionaire (in 1980 dollars!) by the time his daughters Serena and Venus were born. This is a new revelation, by the way. A simply amazing individual, you have to admit!

The reader is informed of how Richard, simply as an aside, discloses how he had a bank account with $810,000 sitting in it, at the time he conceived his plan to birth two daughters and make them tennis champions.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Ahmed Sule on June 20, 2014
Format: Hardcover
Overall this is a very good and informative book and could serve as a useful guide for parents in raising children. It also reveals the foundation behind the success achieved by Venus and Serena.

Indeed, the Venus and Serena Williams success story might never have happened had a Good Samaritan not come to the rescue of a woman named Julia Metcalf 72 years ago. Julia Metcalf was alone in her house in Shreveport, Louisiana when she went into labor. Since, at the time, the Jim Crow laws prevented any nearby hospitals from treating blacks, she was forced to attend a hospital far away from her home. As she walked towards the hospital drenched by the rain and in severe pain, many car drivers including someone for whom she worked ignored her, simply because she had the "wrong skin color." After walking for several miles, she fell to her knees and said a prayer. Shortly after, a member of her church came to her rescue and took her to the hospital where she gave birth to Richard Williams.

Williams' upbringing was a humble one in the segregated community of Shreveport where he lived with his four siblings in a house with no bed or in-house toilet. Richard Williams is a man accustomed to standing up to authority; something to which the tennis fraternity can bear witness. Williams repeatedly violated the Jim Crow segregation laws and challenged the Ku Klux Klan (KKK). He infiltrated the KKK by disguising himself as a Klan member and used the cloak of anonymity to physically attack some of the Klan members.

In 1978, he met Oracene Price who had three daughters from a previous marriage.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Robert McSpadden on June 11, 2014
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I finally got the important pieces that were missing from the puzzle of my 23 years of being an ardent fan of the Williams family. Especially of Richard, Venus and Serena.I am a lifelong tennis player (since age 11) I was a Lynwood, California resident from 1933 to 1953..that's right I'm 80 years old. I retired from the Lynwood School District in 1992. During the last years before retirement I would run across Richard with Serena and Venus on the public courts of Lynwood and Hollydale . I remember distinctly how gracious, friendly, and proud Richard was when he would come over to the tennis court fence and talk with me while the girls were practicing. I guess he could tell I was totally impressed with what I was watching when he saw my jaw hanging close to the top of my chest. I got to talk with both Richard and Venus at Indian Wells at both the Tennis Garden and Grand Champions (the venue of the tourney before the garden) I was in the last two days of my first year of volunteer ushering at the Tennis Garden when the Venus-Serena semi was supposed to be played and it was canceled before it was played. I was ushering in lower bowl the Sunday of Serena's final with Kim Clister and witnessed the booing of Richard ,Venus and finally Serena as they came into the main stadium. I was never so disappointed in tennis fans in my life. I spent 13 more years volunteering at The Garden without being able to see them. Now that you know something about the person writing the review I will write about the book. The story of Venus and Serena and Richard coaching his daughters. This story is undoubtedly the best sports story of the last century.

I wasn't very far into the book when it dawned on me that this would make a great movie.
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