Venus and Serena was filmed during the worst professional year of the sisters, which was 2011. It was during the time when Serena was still recovering from a life-threatening pulmonary embolism. Venus, on the other hand, withdrew from the circuit due to her battles with an autoimmune disorder.
The setbacks that the two sisters faced didn’t fit the template that the filmmakers, Michelle Major and Maiken Baird, had in mind. They tried to shrug off the bad times. The documentary ended on a high note with a quick summary of the 2012 season when the sisters rebounded from their slump.
Venus and Serena is well made. Both sisters have nothing but praise for their father, who has made them into tennis prodigies by giving the two rackets at an early age. Serena’s outbursts at lineswomen and umpires are tackled in the documentary. John McEnroe dismissed it as a behavior that is less controversial when it comes from a white guy like him.
Venus also mused that being a Jehovah’s Witness makes it hard for her to consider marriage. The religion requires women to be subservient to their husbands. But the statement has already been forgotten as soon as she uttered it.
Venus and Serena is basically an introduction to the Williams sisters. It uses archival footage from their childhood days in Compton along with speakers, such as Bill Clinton, Gay Talese and Chris Rock. Then it shows their 2011 tour.
There’s little on-court action in Venus and Serena. The documentary doesn’t talk about the strengths and weaknesses with regards to their games. What it shows is the overflowing love the two sisters have for each other, even if they are in direct competition against each other. One of the most memorable moments in Venus and Serena is during the finals of the 2002 French Open. Serena beats Venus and Venus goes to the stands to get a camera so that she can take a photo of her sister with the trophy.