Tennis stars coached to World No. 1 by King Richard-fame Rick Macci ft. Venus, Serena Williams and Maria Sharapova

Rick Macci
Rick Macci's association with top players

The top spot in the world rankings is not the only thing that Venus and Serena Williams, Maria Sharapova, Andy Roddick, and Jennifer Capriati have in common.

All five former World No. 1 players were, at one point in their careers, associated with Rick Macci, the star coach who found renewed fame after the release of the biopic King Richard.

Here’s a list of facts and anecdotes from Macci's association with these top players:

Venus and Serena Williams

Venus and Serena Williams at the 2022 US Open.
Venus and Serena Williams at the 2022 US Open.

Venus and Serena Williams moved from Compton, California, to West Palm Beach, Florida with their family at the young ages of 11 and 10, respectively, so they could attend Rick Macci's academy. The American coach was one of the first people from outside the family to spot the Williams sisters' potential and pushed for formal coaching.

Macci formed a working relationship with their father Richard, one that has been subject to significant commentary and was even mentioned in the recent biopic King Richard.

Speaking to Tennis Channel after the film's release, Macci said he and Richard were a collective force who set out on a "mission" to propel Venus and Serena Williams to the top of the women's game.

"I took a big chance, Venus and Serena are like my own daughters. Richard is my best friend," Rick Macci said. "So to see this come out in a movie it was incredible. It brought back so many memories, Richard and I were on a mission that wasn't going to be denied. Rest is history."

The duo's relationship wasn't always seamless, and there were points of disagreement between Richard and Macci - most notably the former's unwillingness to have his daughters spend too much time on the junior circuit.

Both Venus and Serena Williams stopped playing on the junior tour despite holding impeccable 63-0 and 46-3 win-loss records and holding the top spots in their respective age categories.

Maria Sharapova

Maria Sharapova at the 2020 Brisbane International.
Maria Sharapova at the 2020 Brisbane International.

Rick Macci trained Maria Sharapova at the start of her career and was instrumental in shaping the Russian's trademark groundstrokes. Macci also recalled himself and Sharapova's father Yuri Sharapov seriously contemplating making the then 11-year-old Sharapova switch to playing left-handed in his book Macci Magic: Extracting Greatness From Yourself And Others.

In his assessment, Macci described Sharapova's left-handed groundstrokes as "poetry in motion," adding that she hit the ball better that way as her contact point was in front and there were no hitches.

Andy Roddick

Andy Roddick at the BNP Paribas Open.
Andy Roddick at the BNP Paribas Open.

Rick Macci went through a bit of a role reversal when training Andy Roddick, learning a thing or two about big blazing forehands from the former World No. 1.

Macci began coaching Roddick in 1991, when the American was just nine years of age. The coach recalled watching the youngster bend his elbow while coiling up to take a forehand, something that Macci said was unheard of at the time, but would become the norm on the ATP tour in the years to come.

Roddick's competitiveness and fierce attitude, both on- and off-court, was another standout that impressed Macci. He claimed that the American's mindset was one of the qualities that helped him sustain success over the course of his career.

Jennifer Capriati

Jennifer Capriati at the French Open Tennis.
Jennifer Capriati at the French Open Tennis.

Before he helped transform Venus and Serena Williams into teen phenomenons, Rick Macci had overseen the early development of another American champion and World No. 1, Jennifer Capriati.

The coach fondly dubbed Capriarti one of his favorite students of all time, adding that he envisioned big things for her the minute a ten-year-old Capriati stepped onto the court.

He was also one of the few who found the Tennis Hall of Famer's late surge unsurprising. All three of Capriati's Grand Slam titles came in her career's second innings, after returning from her 1994-95 hiatus.

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Edited by Arshit Garg
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