As Naomi Osaka faces Serena Williams in the U.S. Open, comparisons are swirling between she and her sister, Mari, and Venus and Serena Williams.
The sister duos have something very obvious in common, being two sets of black women who have risen through the ranks of tennis to the highest competitive level. But there’s another connection between the two sets of siblings that’s lesser known: both of their fathers are their respective coaches. What’s more, Naomi and Mari Osaka’s father, Leonard Francois, actually emulated his coaching style off of Richard Williams.
Here’s what you need to know.
Francois Taught His Daughters How to Play Tennis Based Off of Richard Williams’ Coaching Style
In a profile of Naomi Osaka in The New York Times, Francois explained that he decided to get his two daughters involved in tennis after watching the Williams sisters perform in 1999; Naomi and Mari Osaka were just toddlers at the time.
Brook Larmer of The New York Times wrote, “Francois became transfixed by a broadcast of the French Open featuring the American prodigies Venus and Serena Williams, then 18 and 17, who teamed up to win the doubles title that year. Francois played little tennis. But Richard Williams, the sisters’ father and coach, had played none at all. And Williams had created a plan to turn his daughters into champions, teaching them how to serve big and hit hard from every corner of the court. ‘The blueprint was already there,’ Francois told me. ‘I just had to follow it.’”
Source: Heavy Sports