Now is the Time for Richard Williams and Oracene Price to be inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame

8 min readSep 13, 2023


From: Ahmed Olayinka Sule, CFA

To: The Board of Governors and Executive , International Tennis Hall of Fame

Following the recent release of Stuart McClave’s documentary titled “On the Line: The Richard Williams Story,” I am compelled to write another letter urging the ITHOF to induct Richard Williams and Oracene Price into the Tennis Hall of Fame. Furthermore, following Dan Faber and Patrick McEnroe’s appointment as ITHOF CEO and President, respectively, I am compelled to write to bring to their attention the long-standing matter of Mr. Williams and Ms. Price’s exclusion from the Hall of Fame.

To recap, in February 2017, Mikeson and I nominated Williams and Price individually to be inducted into the Tennis Hall of Fame under the Contributors Category, arguing that “No one has made an impact on the game of tennis in the last two decades as much as Richard and Oracene.” We were expectant that they would be inducted for the Contributor Class of 2018. Unfortunately, our nomination was binned a few months after ITHOF changed its induction policy from an annual to a quadrennial induction process. So we had to wait another four years to see if Williams and Price would be inducted.

In December 2019, we submitted another nomination form for the Contributors Class of 2021. Shortly after our nomination, the ITHOF shifted the goalpost by amending the Policies & Procedures of Enshrinement, specifically for the Contributor Category, by making it eligible for groups of individuals who acted together to make tennis history. In response to this rule change, we decided to consolidate our individual nominations of Williams and Price and submit a joint nomination of Williams and Price. We argued that they acted together to make tennis history as a group. Once again, our hopes were dashed a few months later when the ITHOF excluded Williams and Price from induction.

On 11 August 2022, I nominated Richard Williams and Oracene Price for the Class of 2025 Contributor Category. With the ITHOF moving the year of induction from 2025 to 2024, I remain cautious but optimistic that Williams and Price will be inducted as the second and third black contributors in the ITHOF’s sixty-nine-year history.

Stuart McClave’s documentary visually justifies why Richard Williams and Oracene Price’ should be inducted. Let’s look at how the documentary addresses ITHOF’s criteria. Williams is, without a doubt, a visionary. The film shows how he predicted Venus and Serena would win multiple grand slams. He predicted they would be number one in the world, saying, “They are coming out of the ghetto not to be number ten but number one.” When he met Rick Macci, Williams told him that his daughters would change the game of tennis. Price and Williams were also pioneers. One of the interviewees stated that Williams taught his daughters to make decisions and trust themselves. He had a book plan written before Venus was born, which charted their course to dominate the tennis field. They trained their daughters to be mentally tough. Richard Williams said in the film, “If you can train kids to be mentally tough, they can do anything.” This is evident in the documentary when Serena played Kim Clijsters at the Indian Wells final, and the crowd started jeering her. After going down in the first set, Serena shrugged off the crowd’s hostility. As Patricia Moore eloquently said, “Richard Williams prepared her for a time like this.”

Regarding making a transcendent impact on the sport, Williams and Price tick all the boxes. Through their efforts, they brought black people into the sports. One of the interviewees in the documentary noted, “The predictions he made came true. Every black player on the tour is because of them.” The documentary also highlights Williams’s character. He stuck to his convictions even when others thought he had lost his mind. He overcame a tough upbringing and endured the legacy of slavery and racism. His mother put him on a train as a child and sent him away from Shreveport, Louisiana, to preserve his life. Despite this experience, he and Price fine-tuned a strategy to make their daughters etch their name in tennis history. Dale Caldwell noted in the documentary, “The Richard Williams story exposes the reality about America… it is extraordinary that he overcame the negative influences.”

One of the lead characters in the documentary was your very own Katrina Adams, who is on the Board of Governors and Chairperson of the Enshrinee Nominating Committee for the International Tennis Hall of Fame. She spoke glowingly about Mr. Williams and Ms. Price. She said,” People had never seen anyone like him.” She said, “His number one goal was to protect his daughters.” She said, “He believed it and achieved it.” She said that Oracene Price does not get her dues and “Oracene is unbelievable.” She said, “Richard Williams is one of the greatest coaches of all time.”

The documentary features Corey Gauff, father of the recent US Open champion Coco Gauff. I don’t need to remind you that Richard Williams influenced Corey Gauff. He applied some of Williams’s master plan for Coco, and a few days ago, we saw the outcome. Coco Gauff has been outspoken about the legacy of Williams and Price by acknowledging the role Serena and Venus played in her tennis development. During the victory ceremony, Gauff thanked Corey Gauff for taking her as a child to the US Open to watch “Venus and Serena compete.” During her post-match press conference, Gauff spoke about Venus and Serena’s influence, saying, “They’re the reason why I have this trophy today, to be honest. They have allowed me to believe in this dream growing up. There weren’t too many, just Black tennis players dominating the sport. When I was younger, it was just them that I can remember. Obviously, more came because of their legacy. So, it made the dream more believable. But all the things that they had to go through, they made it easier for someone like me to do this.”

Once again, Richard Williams and Oracene Price have brought tennis to a new audience. People who do not watch tennis ask if I have watched the documentary. This documentary, which premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival and Sheffield DocFest, has been released by Sky in the UK and Italy, Network 10 and Paramount+ in Australia, M-Net in South Africa, and Canal + in France. As more people learn about Richard Williams and Oracene Price, they will ask, “Why on earth does the International Tennis Hall of Fame fail to induct them despite their contribution to the sport of tennis.”

Jesus Christ once said, “A prophet is honoured everywhere except in his own hometown.” Mr Williams and Ms Price have given their all to the tennis world. What do they get in return? The tennis media ridicule them; tennis players claim they fixed matches, and the ITHOF continues to exclude them from its Hall of Fame. Despite this, those outside of the tennis establishment appreciate their worth. Hollywood recognises them, as evidenced by the King Richard movie, the biographical film about Richard Williams, released in 2021. By March 2022, the film had been streamed in 2.6 million households in the USA. The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences recognises Richard Williams and Oracene Price by nominating Aunjanue Ellis-Taylor for Best Supporting Actress for her portrayal of Oracene Price and awarding Will Smith Best Actor for his portrayal of Richard Williams. The BAFTA recognises Richard Williams and Oracene Price by nominating Aunjanue Ellis-Taylor and awarding Will Smith Best Actor for his portrayal of Richard Williams. I stand to be corrected, but Richard Williams is the only Tennis personality to have a film about him win the Oscars, the BAFTA’s, AFI Awards, Golden Globes, Critic Choice Awards, Screen Actor Guild Awards, Image Awards, Black Movie Award and BET Awards. WHAT IS THE ITHOF WAITING FOR?

As stated earlier, I remain cautious but optimistic about Richard Williams and Oracene Price’s induction to the Tennis Hall of Fame. My scepticism stems from the fact that of the 46 individuals in the ITHOF Contributor Class Hall of Fame, only one black person has made the cut. My scepticism stems from the fact that in the 69-year-old history of the ITHOF, no black woman has been inducted into the ITHOF Contributor Class Hall of Fame. My scepticism stems from the fact that the people and organisations who determine whether Ms Price and Mr William will get inducted comprise global tennis media, historians, industry leaders and many Hall of Famers who are predominately white. However, my optimism stems from the fact that Richard Williams and Oracene Price’s work speaks for itself and will one day be rewarded since excellence is never an accident.

In September 2020, I wrote to the ITHOF Board asking a number of questions, which remained unanswered 1,086 days later. For the sake of posterity, I repeat the questions:

  1. Was the amendment of the eligibility criteria to include a group of individuals a couple of weeks after the nomination opened done to produce an expected outcome?
  2. Why are people being inducted into the Hall of Fame twice?
  3. Why has Williams and Price’s contribution to the game of tennis gone unrecognised?
  4. What is the racial composition of the Enshrinement Eligibility Committee?
  5. What is the racial composition of the Enshrinement Nominating Committee?
  6. What is the racial composition of the Official Voting Group?
  7. What is the racial composition of the Governors-At-Large?
  8. What is the racial composition of the ITHOF Official Representatives?
  9. What is the racial composition of the ITHOF Life Trustees?
  10. What is the racial composition of ITHOF Staff?
  11. Is the current ITHOF racial composition making it incapable of appreciating the contribution of black tennis pioneers to the game?

After reading the above, some of you may still be adamant that Price and Williams have no place in the Hall of Fame. You may argue that they

never played tennis, or you may say that the other white coaches in the Tennis Hall of Fame have made more significant contributions. These objections cannot withstand scrutiny. Twelve Wimbledon titles, eight US Open titles, multiple Olympic gold medals, six WTA Tour titles, seven Australian Open titles, and three French Open titles speak on their behalf.

In conclusion, may I suggest that the entire ITHOF Board of Governors, Management, and Voting Committee assemble in the Boardroom to watch McClave’s documentary and the King Richard movie? After watching the films, search your conscience and ask yourself whether now is the time for Richard Williams and Oracene Price to collect their long overdue Hall of Fame ring.


Ahmed Olayinka Sule, CFA


September 2023


Stuart McClave

American Tennis Association

Tennis Australia

Women’s Tennis Association

All England Lawn Tennis & Croquet Club Limited

United States Tennis Association

Fédération Française de Tennis

International Tennis Federation

Katrina Adams

Serena Williams

Venus Williams