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6 major moments from Venus and Serena Williams’ 'Red Table Talk' with Will Smith

The inspirational athletes opened up to the "King Richard" star about staying grounded throughout their careers and how they respond to negativity. 
Serena Williams, Will Smith and Venus Williams attend the closing night premiere of "King Richard" at the 2021 AFI Fest on Nov. 14, 2021.
Serena Williams, Will Smith and Venus Williams attend the closing night premiere of "King Richard" at the 2021 AFI Fest on Nov. 14, 2021. Emma McIntyre / Getty Images
/ Source: TODAY

Will Smith stepped in to temporarily replace wife Jada Pinkett Smith for the latest episode of "Red Table Talk," featuring Venus and Serena Williams.

The actor, who plays the tennis stars' father in the upcoming biographical drama "King Richard," spoke to the sisters about their groundbreaking career in a predominantly white sport and how they have prioritized their mental health in the face of negativity. 

"King Richard" tells the story of how Richard Williams trained his daughters with an unwavering belief that they would change the sport of tennis. Just two days before the film hits theaters, Venus, 41, and Serena, 40, Williams visited "Red Table Talk" where Smith also reflected on how the movie’s content made him a better parent

Sisters Isha Price and Lyndrea Price, who worked on "King Richard," and matriarch Oracene Price joined the sit-down in the family’s first interview together.

Here are a few highlights from their emotional and honest talk. 

1) The importance of faith 

Venus Williams shared that the first lesson taught in their household was "spirituality" and to "put God first."

When Smith wondered how their faith affects their training, Serena Williams revealed that her beliefs determine how she treats people off the court and how she approaches matches.

"It almost takes a little pressure off of you because nobody wants to win this match more than me," Serena Williams said. "But, for us, there's something much bigger that we believe in that we know is true."

The younger Williams sisters said faith is a "pillow to fall back on" after competing. 

Serena Williams recalled a moment when she competed at the Indian Wells Masters tournament at age 19. 

Some members of the crowd booed Serena and Richard Williams after hearing a rumor that their father convinced Venus to withdraw from the competition to help her sister win. 

To help her stay focused, Serena Williams prayed during each changeover so she did not cry in front of the spectators. 

She explained, "We've had to face different things that, quite frankly, no one has been able to face in tennis. It’s been very, very difficult. That's why we relate so much to each other."

2) Venus Williams' viral interview

During their talk, Smith played a clip from a 1995 interview that recently went viral where a reporter repeatedly questioned 14-year-old Venus Williams' confidence. 

Her father stepped in to ask why the journalist was encouraging self-doubt. 

While watching the video, Venus Williams laughed and revealed, "I've actually never watched that since that day."

She added that the interaction was "intense" and she felt the reporter was "badgering" her. 

After the trio finished laughing, Smith shared that the interaction taught him an important parenting tip.

He noticed that in the clip Venus Williams smiled when her dad, who the actor called a "lion,"  defended her.

"My father was a lion also," Smith said. "But, he would bite me every once in a while."

He added, "What I saw in your eyes was that you had a lion, but he would never bite you."

Richard Williams showed Smith what it means to protect his children while also ensuring they don’t "accidentally get swiped sometimes in my rage."

Will Smith plays the father of Serena and Venus Williams in "King Richard."HBO Max

3) How to deal with haters

Regarding how the athletes handle hateful messages, they referred to Venus Williams' comments from earlier this year.

During a press conference at the French Open in June, the older Williams sister said, "I know every single person asking me a question can't play as well as I can and never will. So, no matter what you say or what you write, you'll never light a candle to me."

Serena Williams added that if people are talking about them, then that means they are doing well. 

"I actually only hear positive things," Serena Williams acknowledged, as her sister and Smith burst out laughing. "That's how good I am at blocking it out."

4) Remembering Yetunde

Sisters Isha and Lyndrea Price and mother Oracene Price appeared for the final few minutes of the interview.

Smith asked the family how they felt seeing their late sister Yetunde Price, who was tragically killed in 2003, depicted in "King Richard."

Serena Williams began, "I think I cried the whole time. Whenever she came on film personally I just started…" before trailing off. 

As Serena Williams wiped away tears and the other sisters began to cry, her mom added, "It was a quiet moment. I think because we know how it was. It was just something that you kind of try to put in the back of your mind and don’t want to remember." 

Venus Williams chimed in and called her oldest sister an original member of "Team V." 

5) Willow Smith’s reaction to "King Richard"

Lyndrea Price, who worked with the costume and wardrobe department on the film, wondered if Smith's relatives connected to "King Richard."

Smith said his family loved the movie and that his daughter, Willow Smith, noticed the actor started to embody Richard Williams' teachings after filming.

"She said, 'That’s why you started calling me three times a day,'" Smith joked as the family laughed. 

He then referenced a line from the movie where Venus and Williams tell their father he is their best friend. 

Imitating Willow Smith's voice, he said his daughter told him, "'OK, I get it. You want to be my best friend now.'"

6) Advice to families raising child prodigies 

Smith wanted Williams to share tips for parents who have ambitious dreams for their children.

Venus Williams stressed the importance of having a strong support system. 

She said, "One of the best things that was ever told to us, and why we’re so close, is that your sisters are your best friends."

Before the interview ended, she noted that success can originate from anywhere.

"It doesn't really matter where you come from," she said, adding that values are the key ingredient to achieving goals.