King Richard -- the film based on the role of Richard Williams in the lives of tennis greats Venus and Serena -- has created a stir on Twitter. Some have questioned the title of the film, asking why a film about the success of the Williams sisters is called King Richard. The film stars Will Smith in the titular role.
Some fans and movie-goers took to social media to criticize the film for being based on their father rather than focusing on Venus and Serena. This has started a fierce online debate.
Others also spoke about how Richard Williams 'abandoned' his first family. The 79-year-old has been accused of leaving his first wife and six daughters prior to raising the Williams sisters.
Fans of the duo leapt to their defense, with many reminding critics that the American tennis champions have produced the film and maintained plenty of control over it.
Others pointed to the fact that the film is one of the few in modern cinema to appreciate and applaud black fatherhood, rather than playing to the stereotype of the absentee father.
"There was no other way to tell that story": Serena Williams on King Richard
In an interview, Serena explained why the story of their success had to be told through their father.
Serena Williams had addressed the issue on other occasions as well. Prior to the release of the film, the 23-time Grand Slam champion said that the vision behind the film was always to honor and acknowledge the efforts made by their father.
"We and Will (Smith) wanted to make a movie that really honored my dad. King Richard really tells a story about what he did not only in tennis but little did he know the impact that it'd have just literally on the globe and so it's a really interesting story," she said.
"Ride or die, no matter what": Venus Williams on her father's influence
In a recent interview ahead of the release of the film, Venus Williams revealed that the central theme of it is the mark that their father left of them, and the role he played in the rise of two of the greatest players to have ever played the game.
"I think you get to really see the ecosystem of my family," she told ABC News. "It's not perfect, but all that matters is that you are going in the same direction together and building each other up. That's what we did and that's what we do."
Venus reiterated that few understand the magnitude of their dad's involvement in their success, which is what the film is really about.
"People didn't understand him but I think that it didn't take long for people to realize that this is a guy who's for his family, for his daughters, ride or die, no matter what," she added.
The film will be released in theaters in India on Friday, November 26. It is currently streaming in the US on HBO Max and playing in theaters.