The new documentary “Venus and Serena” reinforces what we already know: The two Williams sisters from Compton, Calif., are remarkable tennis champions whose forceful serves and aggressive play made them two of the dominant athletes of their era. Does the film pull back the curtain on who they are and what drives them? Not so much.
Most of the documentary was shot in 2011, one of worst years professionally for both women because of health issues. Venus had to drop out of the tennis circuit when she was diagnosed with an autoimmune disorder, and younger sister Serena suffered a life-threatening pulmonary embolism. This allows the filmmakers to focus on the adversity that elite athletes face when injuries sideline them. It also sets up a triumphant ending, with the film recapping the sisters’ redemptive 2012 season. Unfortunately, the later scenes change the tempo and focus in a way that feels like an addendum.