Court cases involving public figures often reveal intriguing nuggets. In Florida, Venus and Serena Williams are fighting a $45 million breach-of-contract claim from two promoters that Richard Williams, their father and erstwhile manager, signed a document in March 2005 obliging the sister-tennis stars to participate in a “Battle of the Sexes” event designed to recreate the historic Billie Jean King-Bobby Riggs showdown. John McEnroe was mentioned as a possible opponent.
Venus and Serena claim Daddy had no right to act in their behalf. Under cross-examintation, Serena testified, “I never said my father is my manager in that he’s managed my career.” Venus also testified that her father had no authority to handle her affairs. Even Richard said under oath that he had no authority to obligate his daughter to any commitments.
Interestingly, jurors heard a clip from a 2002 documentary on the Williams sisters in which Serena, now 25, talks about her father’s role in her life. “There’s a very thin line between being a manager, being a coach and being a dad,” Serena said in the film. “As a manager, I think he’s the best.”
But check this out: Tax documents submitted as evidence during the trial reveal Venus, 26, and Serena each paid Richard about $1 million between 1999 and 2002 for what is listed as “coaching and management fees.” The correlating income is also listed on Richard’s return under the same heading.
Serena told the court she never authorized her accounant to characterize the funds that way.
The outcome stems on whether jurors believe Richard had the authority to act on his daughters’ behalf. Right now, it seems a toss-up.
In one poignant moment, Serena testified: “My dad has come from nothing. He has helped myself and my sister to be something.”
Here’s the full story: courttv.com
More: Tennis stars’ dad had list of demands for Sexes match, promoter … Sun-Sentinel.com
Even more: Promoter disputes Williams sisters’ testimony Palm Beach Post
And thanks, Juan, for turning us on to Jamie Foxx’s anthem to Serena: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ViKZJ4Y7mJo
Ballers: Venus and Serena Williams
Scoundrels: Too soon to tell, but the plaintiffs are solid candidates.
PS: Richard, 64, collapsed outside the courtroom Wednesday and was taken to a local hospital with “flu-like” symptoms. My prayers are for his full recovery.